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Wayfinding signs and concepts for trails and roads

People get lost— and the new Quad Cities wayfinding system is going to fix that.

arrow From the Fall 2008 American Trails Magazine

By Jessica Waytenick

Map of Iowa and IllinoisAFTER YEARS OF WORKING toward a wayfinding system in the Quad Cities area, it’s finally becoming a reality as signs are currently being installed.

Located on the Mississippi River in the Midwest, the Quad Cities is comprised of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa; Rock Island and Moline/East Moline, Illinois; and surrounding communities.

With its multi-city, bi-state divisions, the Quad Cities area can be a confusing place to navigate. Disorienting features include the Mississippi River running east-west and continuous streets whose names change between cities. And because the cities are contiguous, people are unaware when they have left one city and entered another.

signs showing bike routes

Wayfinding signs showing directions to trails (click to enlarge)

The Riverboat Development Authority in 2000 provided the first grant of $35,000 to fund the design of the system. Corbin Design of Traverse City, Michigan, the nation’s leading firm on wayfinding, was hired to create a wayfinding plan.
Among the ideas was a new graphic to be used on all directional signs divided into color-coded quadrants to represent the Quad Cities’ topography.

This color-coded system would help people know when they are entering or leaving a community. The system would unite the Quad Cities’ attractions and destinations, as well as help visitors and newcomers alike to better understand the lay of the land.

Corbin Design, with input from city officials and key community organizations, had pinpointed 217 signs directing visitors to 85 destinations in the Quad Cities that they shared with the public in 2006.

There will be signs along state highways and city streets identifying the city entered with directional signs to adjacent cities, venues, and public parking.

The estimated cost for the wayfinding system is $400,000 to $600,000 and many public and private sector organizations worked together on its implementation.

A Destination Review conducted by consultant Bill Geist in January 2007 continued to remind officials that the Quad Cities remains a large, complex, and difficult-to-get-around destination by those who are unfamiliar with the community, and a wayfinding system was still needed.

In September 2007, the Riverboat Development Authority challenged each city to implement the wayfinding system in unison by summer 2008 by providing a $70,000 matching grant. And in May 2008, it was announced that a $75,000 grant, issued to the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, will reimburse the cities for 20 percent of the costs for Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, Rock Island, and East Moline to install the wayfinding signs.

For more information see, which includes a map that follows the new wayfinding quadrant colors. For more about wayfinding and Corbin Design, visit

For more information see, which includes a map that follows the new wayfinding quadrant colors. For more about wayfinding and Corbin Design, visit

Also see Wayfinding and signage for Mecklenburg County Greenways, Charlotte, NC

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