By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors voted Wednesday to partner with the city to provide directional signage for business districts during Interstate 35 construction projects.
Norman businesses along the I-35 corridor say people can’t find their way to retailers, hotels, restaurants and other business sites because of ongoing construction.
Norman is considering a contract with SAIC to provide consulting services for a signage project for the Main Street, Lindsey Street and State Highway 9 interchange upgrades by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. The city would make the signs in-house, if possible.
If contracted, SAIC would identify businesses affected by those construction projects, categorize similar types of services and identify detour routes. The NCVB is offering to pay $5,000 of the $9,800 bill for the full scope of services.
Hotels and motels that collect room tax, which funds the NCVB, are being affected by interstate construction, NCVB board members said.
NCVB Interim Director Stefanie Brickman said hotel occupancy rates show a decrease, despite a bump following the May tornadoes.
If the signage project is approved, signs will be temporary, and a comprehensive plan for effective layout will be developed for each construction project. The directional signs will have a thematic logo for key business areas along affected cross-streets. Detour signs will facilitate business access from interstate exit ramps.
The temporary signage plan will focus on directing visitors from the I-35 ramp exits to businesses. Similar types of businesses will be grouped in areas, rather than directing traffic to an individual site.
Guidelines set by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and ODOT will be adopted in the plan development. If hired, SAIC will coordinate the signage with the city. SAIC also is doing the design and engineering for the city’s Lindsey Street improvement project.