AMHERST – It’s low-hanging fruit, so why not pick it?
That’s Amherst councilor Robert Bird’s argument: Changing highway signs to draw more traffic into Amherst won’t magically fix our economy, but it should be easy to do and may help bring more tourists to town.
Bird is concerned that provincially-placed highway signs along the Trans-Canada do not make optimal use of messaging; in some cases providing too little enticement to exit the highway and, in other cases, offering information that is poorly organized.
“I’m a little frustrated,” said Bird.
According to the councilor, the town approached the province two or three years ago about changing signs between the border and exit four. The response was that changes would be expensive, he claimed. But the town representative doesn’t see why, at a minimum, stickering over wording with other wording couldn’t be done inexpensively.
One clear omission, according to Bird, is the absence of a mention directing drivers to the downtown. And on a drive from the Aulac exit to exit four in Nova Scotia, Bird suggested a sign indicating two lanes were for “thru” traffic could be changed so that the right-hand side was marked as the lane people would want if they were planning to exit at Amherst.
As an aside, he pointed out the large Joggins Fossil Centre on the shoulder and said its design made it difficult to read.
The councilor insisted other communities have the types of signage he’s suggesting. He also indicated the LaPlanche Street entrance into town wouldn’t be his first choice for a tourist’s first impression of Amherst.
Bird is unclear why the signs were designed as they were but suggested it might date back to when the highway was twinned. He thinks sign wording could be fixed relatively cheaply and in time for the summer.