Inspired by the rainbow crosswalks of Capitol Hill — and a DIY act of pavement activism in the Central District — the City of Seattle Monday announced a new program that will allow neighborhoods to add their own colors to their streets.
The new Community Crosswalks program “will allow unique crosswalks to be approved and installed through an established process, ensuring that they are safe, reflective of community values and can be maintained,” the announcement of the shared Department of Neighborhoods and Seattle Department of Transportation programs reads.
“This is about celebrating and enhancing community identities,” Mayor Ed Murray is quoted as saying in the announcement. “The iconic rainbow crosswalks on Capitol Hill started a broader conversation on how we can incorporate neighborhood character in the built environment across Seattle. I’m excited to see more history, culture, and community on display for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
In June, the mayor, city officials, and community members were on hand as Seattle unveiled the colors of Gay Pride on six Pike/Pine intersections. While some criticized the $73,000 project for ignoring larger issues affecting the LGBTQ community on Capitol Hill, the crosswalks have become a sort of landmark feature in the neighborhood and a visible symbol of the neighborhood’s gay culture.
Following the Capitol Hill rainbow project, the red, black, and green colors of the Pan-African flag appeared on crosswalks in the Central District. Social activists including The United Hood Movement took credit for the unofficial paint jobs. “Painted crosswalks in other neighborhoods is an idea we are exploring,” an SDOT spokesperson told CHS in August. “We haven’t yet developed a plan or a process for this.”
The new program announced Monday will work in conjunction with the Neighborhood Matching Fund process and lays out a set of requirements including a design and color scheme “reflective of community values” in your neighborhood:
“To be eligible for an installation by SDOT, applicants will need to adhere to City guidelines for crosswalk locations and designs,” the announcement states. “Crosswalks must be sited where vehicles already stop for a traffic signal or stop sign, the design should consist only of horizontal or vertical bars, and the pavement underneath must be in good condition.”
As for cost, SDOT says the features won’t be cheap: “Crosswalks typically cost about $25 per square foot, depending on the complexity of the design and installation, and can be expected to last approximately 3-5 years based on the amount of vehicular traffic at the location.”
Meanwhile, efforts like the Central District crossings will be reviewed — and removed or “repainted” — if they are determined to be unsafe.
Full details of the program and how to begin applying for the crosswalks and grants can be found here.