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New Signs Promote A Walkable Downtown


Gearing up for an influx of visitors when the MGM casino opens and new trains start to arrive daily at Union Station, officials in Springfield, Massachusetts have unveiled plans for new directional signage. 

The city will install a system of wayfinding signage throughout the downtown to point toward  landmarks, public parks, and cultural attractions with estimated walking times to the destinations. Mayor Domenic Sarno, who announced the plans in the rain Tuesday, said downtown Springfield is a very walkable environment.

" More  and more people are not only walking, but I see more and more people jogging and more people riding bicycles," said Sarno.  " Signage is important."

The city has hung 46 temporary signs downtown in a partnership with the Springfield Business Improvement District.  The city has hired the consulting firm Applied Wayfinding to design a permanent system.  The firm has designed directional signage systems for a number of metro areas including London and Vancouver.

Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said the wayfinding signage is one of a series of improvements downtown that include new lighting, plans to add more police on patrol and install a public wi-fi network.

"  There will be 10,000 people a day coming to the casino. There will be 4 million people a year coming through Union Station. They've got to find their way around our city," said Kennedy.

The directional signage system is being paid for with a $60,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  The city’s Commissioner of Health and Human Services Helen Caulton-Harris said it is part of a strategy to encourage people to walk for their health.

" This effort is part of a larger collaborative to make sure we are preventing stroke, diabetes and heart disease by making sure we have a city that is walkable," she said.

Most of the destinations on the new signs are located in the Springfield Center Cultural District, according to the organization’s executive director Morgan Drewniany.

" We are really excited about the signage as a way to connect visitors and residents to the downtown attractions," said Drewniany. "We have a lot of assets people can walk to."

City officials say the permanent signage should be ready for installing in 3-4 months.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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