Records show Seattleites not interested in fancy crosswalks

Dec 22, 2015, 10:56 AM
Records requests into Seattle's Community Crosswalk program didn't turn up much of anything. (SDOT)...
Records requests into Seattle's Community Crosswalk program didn't turn up much of anything. (SDOT)

Apparently fervor over custom crosswalks quickly died off in Seattle.

Several public disclosure requests inquiring about the city’s Community Crosswalk Program turned up … nothing.

Neither the Seattle Department of Transportation nor the Department of Community Development (both responsible for the program) have any records related to the program. That means nobody is officially interested in livening up an intersection.

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The program was created after a few unauthorized crosswalks emerged when the city painted rainbow crosswalks at intersections on Pine and Pike streets in honor of Pride Week. The city spent $66,000 on the rainbow crosswalks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. That money primarily came from street use fees that developers pay to use the public right of way.

The unauthorized crosswalks painted in the Central District and Rainer Beach were the colors of the Pan-African flag and Ethiopian flag. Instead of removing the crosswalks, the city opted to review them &#8211 making sure they complied with safety standards &#8211 and preserve them.

After painting the Capitol Hill crosswalks and announcing that the unauthorized crosswalks would be preserved, the city formed the Community Crosswalk program in September. At the time, city officials exclaimed their excitement for the opportunity to add more custom crosswalks to Seattle.

“The iconic rainbow crosswalks on Capitol Hill started a broader conversation on how we can incorporate neighborhood character in the built environment across Seattle,” Mayor Ed Murray said at the time. “I’m excited to see more history, culture, and community on display for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

In order to get a custom crosswalk, the city suggests interested parties first review the Community Crosswalks Guidelines, which include restrictions on where a crosswalk will be eligible. Next, the city asks for a review of the Neighborhood Matching Fund. The neighborhood fund awards matching funds based on a neighborhood’s contribution of volunteerism, donated material, in-kind professional services, or money. The city also suggests applicants have a community involvement strategy. The crosswalks cost about $25 per square foot and last three to five years.

But enthusiasm for the program may not have lasted very long, at least not where records are kept.

Exactly why there has been little interest thus far isn’t clear. Perhaps the program was announced too late and the weather has kept crosswalk-lovers from wanting to go outside to start planning. Or, maybe, people would prefer the government focus its efforts on making critical improvements to the city, or protecting it, instead of making it more colorful.

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Records show Seattleites not interested in fancy crosswalks