News

Street signs will display slices of Federal Way history

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

Federal Way drivers will soon see new street signs with unfamiliar names, such as “Meredith Road” and “Murphy’s Corner.”

The Federal Way City Council approved funding Feb. 19 to identify the city’s historic streets and preserve its history through the use of new street signage. The Historical Society of Federal Way requested funding for the signage during the city council’s 2007-2008 budget process.

“It’s the first step; it’s a very visible step (in preserving Federal Way’s history),” said Diana Noble-Gulliford, Historical Society of Federal Way president.

The signs will help give residents and visitors a sense of belonging, Noble-Gulliford said. They will also serve as a link to the identity of Federal Way, she said.

On the city’s historic streets, the current signage — green plaques featuring white text — will be replaced with new street signs identifying historic pathways. The new signs will look like the current ones, with the addition of the historic identification written beneath the green area in white text on a brown background.

The placards will be placed at historic intersections now controlled by traffic signals. Roads such as Military Road (previously known as Old Military Road), South 288th Street (previously known as Meredith Road) and Pacific Highway South (completed in 1915 by the Army Corps of Engineers and once known as Seattle-Tacoma Road) are among the city’s historic byways.

Going way back:

Though Federal Way was incorporated 17 years ago, settlers and travelers came here in the early 1800s, according to the Historical Society of Federal Way timeline.

Many of the historic street names, such as Peacocke Road (now 28th Avenue South) and Hoit Road (now Hoyt Road) were named after the families that first established Federal Way, Noble-Gulliford said. Many of the street names have since been changed to make it easier for police and fire personnel to provide services in the city, she said.

The Historical Society of Federal Way had the opportunity to pick the signs’ design among eight options, said Barbara Barney, administrative assistant. One of the proposed designs included the Federal Way and the historical society logos. A few more featured antique-like fine details on either side of the historic street name.

The design chosen is easy to read and not distracting to drivers, Barney said.

The city will spend $5,000 to post signs at approximately 12 locations. Each sign will cost $175 to make, according to a Feb. 4 memorandum from assistant city manager Cary Roe to the Federal Way City Council. However, labor and machinery must be employed to erect the signs. This is expected to cost $275 per sign, bringing the total to more than $400 each sign, according to the memorandum.

The money currently dedicated to the project will not allow the city to identify all its historic streets at this time. But as part of the city’s regular maintenance budget, as a street sign needs replacement, historic signs will be mounted in their place, city spokeswoman Linda Farmer said. The historical society will not have to request another large sum of money for the signs, she said.

The new placards, due to their brown coloring, are estimated to have a life-span of three to five years vs. the seven- to 10-year life-span of the modern signs, according to the memo.

The historical society hopes the signs are welcomed. Noble-Gulliford said they may even prompt residents to want to identify the city’s historic neighborhoods, such as Redondo, which was previously known as Stone’s Landing.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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