Another roadside tourist attraction

County markers guide motorists

With the aid of roadside markers directing travelers to notable places, visiting Island County’s historic sites will no longer be a blind tour.

A helpful brochure, complete with a detailed map of the county and directions to its historic locations, has been disseminated and are available, but strangers to the island often must happen upon the sites.

Now, county-placed roadside markers should help solve the problem.

“It’s a neat concept and it will be a value to the traveling public,” said Bill Oakes, Island County Public Works director. “And it puts out a very interesting part of Island County. There’s a long history and there are many historic sites that will be of interest to people.”

The undertaking began three years ago as a “call for projects” from the state. They were projects aimed at general enhancement of the highway system. The Washington Department of Transportation administers the federal dollars.

“We were talking with the Island County Historical Marker Committee and they identified a number of sites where they’d like to have historical markers or historical site direction signing as part of an enhancement project,” Oakes said.

The county dove into the lengthy, year-long grant application process to obtain the funding.

The $60,000 grant was awarded last fall.

Connie Bowers, Public Works traffic engineer, said the Island County Historical Marker Committee came up with a list of sites on Whidbey and Camano islands, approximately four in each district.

Oakes added that the signs’ informational content would vary depending on the site’s location in proximity to the highway.

“For each site we’ll identify the appropriate signage,” Oakes said. “It may be directional; the site may be close enough to the roadway that it can just have an informational sign that tells you you’re there.”

Bowers said the historical marker committee is considering using a past logo for the roadside markers. The signs will bear the logo with a placard underneath that identifies the site.

“Most likely they’ll be brown with white lettering,” she said. “We’re trying to do this within the next six months.”

The project has been waiting to see the light of day for years, Oakes said. County Commissioner Mike Shelton agreed.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said at last Wednesday’s staff session.