New State-wide Tourism Sign Program Implemented in So. Md. - Southern Maryland Headline News

New State-wide Tourism Sign Program Implemented in So. Md.

New tourism signage now appears all throughout So. Md. The signs were provided by the Maryland Tourism Area and Corridor Sign Program (TAC).
SOUTHERN MARYLAND (Aug. 2, 2007) - It's hard to miss all of the new signs along the roadways in So. Md. They're big, they're brown, and they're bold. They point the way to all of the area's historical, curtural, and tourism sites. The signs were installed as a part of Maryland's Tourism Area and Corridor Sign Program (TAC).

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), in cooperation with the Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), established the TAC program in 2002, in an effort to develop a comprehensive tourism signing program for the state. To date, the program has been implemented in Talbot and Dorchester Counties. The state-wide program is scheduled to be fully implemented within the next three years.

The program is a supplemental navigational guidance system intended primarily for State Rights-of Way. It is organized as a system of signed tourism areas and corridors based on an area's fundamental geographical structure. Once within the corridors, signs point to individual attractions. The system also incorporates the international highway signing system of generic symbols to include the question mark ("?") to denote visitor information, and pictographs to denote golf courses, wineries and marinas. Two-color signs with brown bands against a blue background mark travel routes to a Tourism Area and along a Tourism Corridor. Solid-brown signs are then used to "trail blaze" from these travel routes to destinations.

Corridors in Southern Maryland are the Potomac Corridor and the Patuxent Corridor, with areas designated as the Western Chesapeake Shore and the St. Mary's Peninsula. In addition to the corridor signs, each county has approximately fifty signs pointing directly to specific destinations.

The program allows more attractions to be signed than did the Maryland Tourist Attractions Signs program which it is designed to replace. The old program permitted signs only along major state highways. Only attractions directly off of and within two miles of major highways were eligible for signing. Attractions paid an annual fee for inclusion on the signs. The state's intention via the TAC program is to provide better guidance to a larger array of participants, maximize the number of facilities which qualify for signing, and minimize the number of signs required along the highway. The program relates strictly to tourist attractions. After the initial array of TAC signs is installed in a region, a new attraction may be added if that attraction meets program requirements regarding hours of operation, interpretation, accessibility, and draw of visitors from outside the locality.

Work on the TAC program began in Southern Maryland in 2004 under the direction of SHA and in conjunction with Informing Designs, Inc., of Pittsburgh, and the directors of tourism for Calvert, Charles, St. Mary's, and Prince George's Counties. Calvert County received a first round of signs early in 2006. Full program implementation in all three Southern Maryland counties plus the southern portion of Prince George's County, is expected to be accomplished by this fall.

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