The crosswalks at the intersection of Northeast 15th Street and 31st Avenue will be painted Dec. 11. (Alexus Cleavenger/WUFT News)

Artistic crosswalks are coming to Northeast 15th Street in Gainesville

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Pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles traveling on Northeast 15th Street will soon have a more colorful journey.

Graduate students in the design program at the University of Florida School of Art and Art History are working with the city to create artistic crosswalks. The murals will be painted on the crosswalks on the intersection of Northeast 15th Street and 31st Avenue.

Brooke Hull, the head of communications for the crosswalk mural project, said the program invested in community outreach.

“This project is about giving back and trying to give back in a way that the community will actually enjoy,” Hull said.

Hull said she did a walkthrough of the area and asked neighbors what they wanted to see painted on a crosswalk. Themes of nature and bright colors were popular responses.

The final art for the crosswalks will come from a workshop on Nov. 19 with the Kids Count Alachua County Schools program at Faith Mission.

“We want to make it really easy for lots of people to paint and not just have the designers work on it,” Hull said.

Hull also talked with students from Project YouthBuild to gain inspiration for the crosswalk design. The program works to help low-income students who have dropped out of school earn their high school diploma and take part in community projects.

“Our students are getting introduced to this really cool process that they might not have been able to learn about and it’s in their own community,” Project YouthBuild impact coordinator Ashten Mays said.

Traffic is constant along Northeast 15th Street, so making sure it’s safe as well as beautiful is a priority for the City of Gainesville, said the city’s public information officer, Rossana Passaniti.

“It is a very important corridor,” Passaniti said. “We want everyone to feel and be safe on that road.”

The murals are part of the city’s broader transportation safety improvement project on Northeast 15th Street.

The first phase of the project was completed this past spring, which focused on buffering bike lanes to slow traffic and provide more room for cyclists on the street. Now, phase two is in progress.

The plans for phase two are targeted toward reducing speed and calming traffic. Passanti said they are continuing to gather feedback from the community. Neighbors in the area want to see slower traffic, she said.

“The city is always working to improve its roadways,” Passaniti said. “Especially given that Gainesville continues to grow.”

According to the City of the Gainesville, there were 192 traffic crashes on Northeast 15th Street over the last five years. Fifteen of those resulted in severe injury or death.

The safety improvements are still in the works, which include raised intersections, curb ramp improvements and complete bus stops. Passaniti said those elements still need to be approved by engineers.

While the city waits for engineering improvements, beautification improvements like the crosswalk murals are in the works.

The mural painting will be held on Dec. 11. Hull said community members are welcome to join.

“I am really excited for them to see the kids’ creations come to life,” Hull said.

About Alexus Cleavenger

Alexus is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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