The Y-shaped crosswalk at the entrance of the Wausau Center Mall is getting a facelift today. The highly trafficked intersection that hundreds of people use every day is going to get a lot more colorful, vibrant, and safer. Currently, the intersection is notorious for rolling stops and some cars not stopping at all. Crosswalk and intersection murals have been used in cities throughout the country to calm vehicular traffic in busy or unsafe areas. Wausau River District’s Community Arts intern, Sarah Lentz, noticed the problem and is bringing the concept to downtown Wausau as a solution. “I work downtown and use the intersection almost daily. I noticed how uncontrolled the traffic is and knew that we had to work find a solution to the problem,” says Lentz.
Traffic calming murals have proven to be effective in cities all over the country including Portland and St. Paul. These murals help calm heavily-trafficked crosswalks and intersections by causing cars to slow down when they see the vibrant designs painted on the street. The interlocking rainbow design chosen for these crosswalks works with the grain of the brick and will be a bright way to alert drivers to the busy pedestrian area. The effectiveness of these murals not only comes from the art itself but by creating community involvement and awareness.
In thinking about accomplishing this project, Lentz realized she needed assistance from community members. Having experience with community art projects like this, Wausau River District sought a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Wausau to help paint the crosswalks. By including local children in the project, Wausau River District is hoping to impart on them the importance of making their city safer, and how they have the power to effect change in their own community.
These murals are to be completed in the morning on Monday, August 15 with street closures on Washington Street, past the mall ramp, until about 3pm Monday. All businesses will be open and parking is available in the mall ramp.