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Rethinking Convention Center Signs

December 28, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN,Courant Staff Writer

From the day the Connecticut Convention Center opened, its managers have heard complaints about the huge parking garage: Signs are confusing, parking is a pain and finding the way from car to convention and back is a challenge.

So the state's Capital City Economic Development Authority is working with architects, construction managers and the garage operator on a plan to improve the signs and ease navigation.

"There's too much information on the [parking] signs, so it gets lost or it's confusing," said Robert B. Saint, project manager for the center at Waterford Development. "We've all recognized that the signage that is there is not doing the job."

The challenge is the size of the garage. Much of it rests directly below the 140,000-square-foot exhibition hall, which allows for a lot of parking. But elevators and stairwells cannot open onto the exhibition space, so parkers have to walk beyond the footprint of the hall to make their way up and out of the garage.

"Even with great signage, it's not an easy garage to get around in because it's so large," Saint said. "But I think this program will greatly help the situation."

The current signs were designed to do two jobs: directing both pedestrians and drivers, Saint said. "That's probably why it's confusing to people," he said.

Some of the expected improvements include marking designated walkways in the garage to guide pedestrians to the convention center and color-coding the different parking levels to make it easier for motorists to remember where they left their cars.

The new traffic signs will be the easily recognizable highway green, Saint said; the new pedestrian signs will have their own colors. The bids are expected to go out in early 2006, officials said.

These are the types of problems that arise only after a garage is open and operational, said Annette Sanderson, the authority's executive director.

"Obviously, when you first lay it out, you hope and you think it will work," she said. "We've heard the issues as described by members of the public, and we've incorporated their concerns."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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