Wayfinding Signs

Project Status

Installed Summer 2022

The City of Falls Church awarded the bid to engineer the signs to Rite Lite Signs, Inc. in February 2021. The signs were delivered and installed Summer 2022. 

About the Project

In Spring 2018, Virginia Tech's Land Use Planning Class presented to City Council (PDF) an inventory of signage throughout the City and recommendations for improvements, including designing and installing consistent wayfinding signage for pedestrians and motorists. The Economic Development Authority (EDA) found that wayfinding signs emphasize the City’s unique character and orient visitors towards the City’s main attractions. 

In 2019, the EDA hired Frazier and Associates to create a Wayfinding System that includes forty-three vehicular directional signs and two pedestrian signs. The vehicular signs will guide visitors to major visitor-oriented destinations, including public parking. Welcoming gateway signs have been installed at the four primary entry points into the City, while public parking and directional signage have been installed throughout the City’s main corridors. After a competitive bid process, EDA hired Rite Lite Signs for the fabrication and installation of the signs in early Spring 2021.  

2021 was spent siting the vehicular wayfinding signs, including an assessment of the feasibility and safety of each sign. City Council agreed to finance two Tinner Hill pedestrian signs in May of 2021. These two signs offer a walking guide to over twenty-five historic sites in the Tinner Hill Historic area. Staff worked with the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation to identify the historic locations and on sign design. The other forty-three vehicular signs are designed to guide visitors who are driving, and are therefore larger than the pedestrian signage. 

The vehicular wayfinding design and locations were identified through 12 public meetings, two public surveys, discussion at each EDA meeting since 2020, and guided by sign criteria that were set by an interest group of Boards and Commissions and local advocates at public meetings in Fall 2019. Below is an outline of the public meeting process and major milestones related to this project: 

Tour of the City with Frazier and AssociatesSeptember 10, 2019
  • Initial EDA meeting with Frazier and Associates to introduce Wayfinding goals, intention, and impact
  • First survey with EDA members on Wayfinding
September 10, 2019 
The second survey with an interest group, Planning Commission, VPIS, Recreation and Parks, and Chamber of Commerce and EDA represented. The group identifies sign program criteria.September 11, 2019
  • Public Survey, posted in News Flash section of website and weekly newsletter under Top News #3 on Facebook.
  • 27 anonymous responses
October 7-October 24, 2019
EDA Meeting, first design draft feedback with Frazier and AssociatesNovember 5, 2019
Frazier and Associates produce survey summary from all public and EDA meetings/feedbackNovember 7, 2019  
EDA meeting, Frazier re-design feedbackDecember 3, 2019
Frazier public presentation and discussion on programming and designMarch 3, 2020
Frazier and Associates presented the option to fund the program in phases because the EDA could not fund the entire program, in light of the $500,000 spent on COVID small business grant funds.

EDA voted to move forward in phases, contingent on a presentation to City Council asking them to fund the second phase. Click here for the Minutes.
September 9, 2020
EDA presented the wayfinding program to Council and presented the idea of the phased approach: Click here for the Minutes 

The Council could not commit to funding phase 2.
September 14, 2020
EDA was refunded $510,000 for COVID small business grants, allowing them the ability to fund the entire Wayfinding programOctober 26, 2020
EDA discussed funding the entire Wayfinding program but asked for additional technical details before officially approving: Click here for the MinutesOctober 6, 2020
EDA voted to approve to fund the entire Wayfinding program, upon receiving the refund and more information from the consultants. Click here for the Minutes.November 10, 2020
EDA was presented with the next steps and discussed putting out the wayfinding bid with help from purchasing staff: Click here for the Minutes.December 1, 2020
The bid was released and awarded to Rite Lite SignsFebruary 2021
Wayfinding Kick-Off meeting with Rite Lite SignsMarch 2021
City Council agrees to finance two Tinner Hill pedestrian 'Historic Tinner Hill' walking guide signsMay 2021
Stakeouts/site reviews, assessment of feasibility and safety of locations, ordering materialsSpring-Winter 2021
InstallationSummer 2022

gateway and trailblazer signs

public parking sign

Several different signs types and locations were proposed: 

  1. Primary Gateway Signs (4x), placed at or near East Broad Street (coming from Seven Corners), N Washington Street (coming from Arlington County), S Washington Street (coming from Fairfax County), and West Broad Street (coming from Fairfax County). 
  2. Secondary Gateway Signs (5x), placed at or near South West Street (coming from Fairfax County), Annandale Road (coming from Fairfax County), Hillwood Avenue (coming from Fairfax County), and Roosevelt Boulevard (coming from both Seven Corners and East Falls Church Metro). 
  3. Primary and proximity destination signage, specifically for the Eden Center, Downtown area, City Hall campus (including City Hall, Community Center, Library, and Farmers Market), and State Theater. 
  4. Public parking signs.  

While the program cannot add any additional vehicular directional wayfinding signage (sign T1 in the above sign design), the sign designs can be used for additional public parking (signs P3 and P4) and site identification signage. 

A wayfinding gateway sign that shows The Little City logo and says The City of Falls Church Welcome

Staff Contacts

Becky Witsman (bwitsman@fallschurchva.gov)
Val Weiner (vweiner@fallschurchva.gov)