Signs designed to make city more navigable

For all its many visitors, it is often said that Rochester can be a hard place to find one's way around. New directional signs and maps to be installed in the downtown skyways and subways should help make it a little easier, said Brad Jones, executive director of the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For all its many visitors, it is often said that Rochester can be a hard place to find one's way around.

New directional signs and maps to be installed in the downtown skyways and subways should help make it a little easier, said Brad Jones, executive director of the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We talk to visitors every day," Jones said. "They kind of voice their frustration over bad signage or no signage, signage that no longer is visible."

The new signs, to be installed by early next year, are the end result of a seven-year — yes, seven-year — study by a city "wayfinding" committee.

The committee conducted its work in fits and starts, finally coming up with a recommendation that signs and logos be posted at literally hundreds of spots around the downtown — at key spots in the skyways and subways, on street-level doors where people can enter the above- and below-ground tunnels, and on elevator buttons.

The city council recently awarded two contracts totaling $120,000 to two sign companies to produce and install the signs. They'll be tied in, eventually, with a complementary effort by the CVB to install a dozen or more electronic kiosks and a mobile website that will help visitors navigate downtown Rochester even more easily, with smartphones, Jones said.

In that regard, the seven-year time frame was "probably a blessing in disguise," Jones said. "The interactive piece has come so far."

The skyway and subway signs are Phase 2 in an overall program to update downtown signs.

Earlier, the city replaced disparate-looking signs outside public parking ramps with new signs that share a uniform design.

Later on, the city's attention will turn to directional street signs — helping drivers find their way from U.S. 52 into different parts of the downtown area.

New signs might be nice, but one person who doesn't mind acting as a living signpost is Connie Frutiger, an employee at Counterpoint Home, a skyway-level store at University Square.

Customers asking her for directions often get a map and a confident description telling them exactly where to go, Frutiger said. To keep her sense of direction fresh and stay current on the local businesses, she often wanders the skyways and subways herself, she said.

"I think it's quite a bit of fun, if you'd like to know the truth," she said. "If you know where you can find certain things, it's helpful to them (visitors)."

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