CARTHAGE, Mo. — Newly erected wayfinding signs around Carthage have been a blessing for international tourists such as Bobbi Goulding-Parr, who’s taking a solo trip across Route 66.
“They’re really helpful,” said Goulding-Parr, of London, while on the square in Carthage recently. “I have the landmarks in my (Route 66) book, and then I read the signs and followed the big ones here.”
Welcome signs have been placed at entrances to the city. Downtown now has several blue wayfinding signs pointing to areas of public interest, such as Route 66 or the Battle of Carthage site. The destination signs near the square are decorated with gold trim and marked with the date 1842, which was when Carthage became the Jasper County seat. Informational signs are also dispersed throughout the square with a map to old Route 66, the Civil War Museum and a historic driving tour.
The signage is part of a $187,000 joint project with the city and the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau that has been years in the making. The groups teamed up with CDL, of Pittsburg, Kansas, to install the markers.
Niki Cloud, executive director of the convention bureau, said the signs will help serve as a guide for international travelers.
“The primary focus is to help out-of-town visitors find their way better around Carthage,” Cloud said. “Today (Tuesday) alone, we’ve had (travelers from) four different countries come in — Canada, England, Spain and Italy — and it’s not even 2 o’clock. It’s been able to point out some things not only to international travelers but even domestic travelers.”
Steve Willis, president of the convention bureau board, updated the City Council on the wayfinding project during the council's meeting last month. He said the project is in the fourth of five phases. A total of 45 signs have been installed as part of the first four phases, which is more than 90% complete.
“They’re attractive, they serve a purpose and I think they’re doing something great for the city of Carthage,” Willis told the council. “I think this has been a valuable program for all of us. I haven’t heard one negative comment made about those signs.”
Willis said there have been numerous delays over the course of the project, most of them weather-related. The latest delay was because of sign installation without a permit from the Missouri Department of Transportation.
“That permit has been approved, and we’re moving forward,” he said.
The final phase will be the installation of 40 destination signs in front of establishments such as hospitals, but it has been halted because of lack of funding and possible reconsideration, Willis said.
“We don’t have the funds for it to start with, but the important thing is, we’re determining whether some of those signs may be redundant,” he told the council. “Some of those signs that are going to be dedicated to certain business owners, we might ask them to purchase their own signs rather than the city.”