'An exciting project for us': Sign system to guide bikers, hikers on three Lake County trails
A wayfinding system designed to enhance the experience of bikers and hikers on three well-known trails is advancing in Lake County.
The county board's public works, planning and transportation committee has recommended appropriating $600,000 for sign posts, bases, blanks and related materials to create and install wayfinding signage along the North Shore, Robert McClory and Skokie Valley bike paths.
The financial and administrative committee will next review the plan, and an expected approval by the full county board June 14 would allow work to begin this summer.
"This is an exciting project for us," said Al Giertych, assistant county engineer. "Our system is pretty extensive now."
Wayfinding signs provide information and help coordinate trails by letting riders know their locations and directions to other trails, town centers, amenities or other attractions.
The hope is that more use the bike path network rather than drive, according to the Lake County Department of Transportation.
But it's taken a while to get to this point.
The county board in January 2019 authorized a $125,760 contract with Corbin Design Inc., of Traverse City, Michigan, for consulting and design services. In May 2020, Corbin presented strategies and sign templates to enhance bikeways.
The wayfinding and signage study was completed in February 2021.
Besides Corbin and LCDOT, the collaboration included representatives from the Lake County Forest Preserve District, local communities, bike clubs and residents.
The wayfinding system, branded as Explore Lake County, would have a standard sign design to present information consistently.
Test signs were installed along a three-mile section of the North Shore Bike Path from Butterfield Road in Libertyville to St. Mary's Road in Green Oaks. The test section still is up.
"We have made some slight updates, such as resizing, switching away from the reflective material and adjusting the colors slightly, but the concept and overall look are the same," said Alex Carr, LCDOT spokesman.
The goal is to have the North Shore, Robert McClory and Skokie Valley bike paths fully signed by the summer of 2023.
LCDOT oversees more than 60 miles of off-street bike paths, but there are hundreds of miles of uncoordinated trails in Lake County.
"I think having a regionwide sign standard will be helpful for everyone," said Lake County Board member Jennifer Clark, chair of the public works, planning and transportation committee.