For many cities and municipalities, working with the Department of Transportation is a necessary part of existence. While some may view the DOT as a cumbersome regulatory institution, the DOT can serve as an asset to many city officials as they work through their wayfinding planning process. Prior to submitting a new plan to the DOT for approval, considering the following tips:

  • Get it right the first time – It is very important to know what is and isn’t allowed when preparing a wayfinding sign submittal for the DOT. This goes for vehicular campaigns, as well as pedestrian sign placement. Knowing the correct sign size, copy and text limitations on your first submittal will go a long way in speeding up the approval process and help to prevent need for time intensive resubmittals.
  • Don’t assume all DOT offices are alike – Just like no two people are alike, DOT offices can be very different from one another. Each office may pose different challenges and advantages, so do your homework before submitting a new plan. Remember that what one DOT engineer might deem as an acceptable sign placement may be red flagged by another engineer. Work to get feedback from neighboring cities that have experience in this area so that you know what to expect.
  • Relationships are key – If you have a good working relationship with your local DOT engineer, it will definitely help your cause during the approval process. The best way to ensure a positive relationship is to have extensive knowledge of what is required for your project and relevant deadlines. If you take the time to make the process easier on the engineer, the favor will more than likely be repaid.
  • Patience is a virtue – When launching a wayfinding project, it is important to keep in mind that your timeline and the DOT’s timeline may be quite different. During the initial planning phase, do not underestimate the time it takes to get approvals for your sign submittals. It is better to err on the side of caution when estimating completion time and understand that problems within the DOT submittal process can lead to delays and cost overruns.
  • The DOT can be your friend – A lot of organizations and municipalities make the mistake of looking at the DOT in an adversarial manner when approaching a wayfinding project approval process. In reality, the DOT actually wants your program to succeed as much as you do and is willing to work with you in making that happen. As long as you follow the proper wayfinding sign guidelines in the submittal process, most DOT offices will work with you make your project a success.