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Which way is up? Look for the signs

City officials begin work on new wayfinding system


Hillsboro’s Tanasbourne area looks very different from historic downtown, which looks very different from Orenco Station.

A project is getting underway at the city of Hillsboro that aims to “connect” the quadrants of the city with a wayfinding system.

“We’re starting to create a vision,” said Corinne Bloomfield, the city’s communications and marketing manager.

A group of community stakeholders — local business owners and representatives from Pacific University, Tuality Healthcare, Washington County, ODOT, the Hillsboro School District and the Washington County Visitors Association — met last week to begin talking about a ideas for a wayfinding system.

Wayfinding, Bloomfield said, at least the way the city of Hillsboro envisions it, is more than just directional signs.

It’s a multi-faceted approach to “connecting” the different areas of the city through signage, welcome gateways, banners, information kiosks and public art.

It creates a sense of place, builds an identity for the city and reflects each unique area of town.

Bloomfield said she wants the process to be “grassroots. There is no plan in place. We want something really unique for Hillsboro.”

There is a survey on the city’s website until the end of July to share ideas about wayfinding at hillsboro-oregon.gov/wayfindingsurvey.

At last week’s meeting, Bloomfield said there was “great support” from stakeholders to create a system that helps people navigate around town.

One of the challenges identified at the meeting, she said, is that “there isn’t one single thing that represents Hillsboro. It’s very diverse. It’s important that we do reflect our unique areas of town.”

The next phase of the process, Bloomfield said, is figuring out “the nuts and bolts of design,” including gathering more input, and defining a timeline and a budget.

“There’s will be a lot more conversations going on,” she added.

Implementation of a final plan will involve many elements over multiple years.

The likely starting place and time will coincide with the conversion of downtown streets to two-way, which is slated to happen sometime in 2015.

“That will likely be the first concrete implementation” of the new wayfinding system, Bloomfield said.

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