Juneau erects cameras to deter rainbow crosswalk

A digital camera is attached to a utility pole on June 13, 2018, overlooking the crosswalk at Seventh and Gold streets in downtown Juneau. The camera was installed to deter people from painting a crosswalk in rainbow colors. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

The tussle over a Juneau intersection continues. Unknown persons continue to paint the  crosswalk at Seventh and Gold streets in rainbow colors. Now the city’s installed cameras to deter the practice. 

City Engineering Director Mike Vigue said it’s unclear why it keeps happening.

“I have no idea if someone’s trying to make a statement whether a social statement or a political statement or if it’s vandalism,” Vigue said Wednesday. “I think that the street crew views it as vandalism because just like graffiti, someone has to clean it up.”

Street crews repainted the crosswalk four times last year.

“Last year they put the camera up and the painting stopped,” he said. “And when they took the camera down, my understanding is that after they took the camera down, someone painted it again.” 

Repainting costs about $300 each time. This spring the unknown painters struck again. The regulation-white crosswalk was colored in again this spring. So this month the cameras went back up. They’re motion-sensitive and take digital stills.

An unidentified couple pose for the recently painted rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of 7th and Gold streets in August 2016. (Photo courtesy Sue Warner)

An unidentified couple pose for the recently painted rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of Seventh and Gold streets in August 2016. (Photo courtesy Sue Warner)

Vigue said his department understands that not everyone views the rainbow crosswalk as vandalism.

“There’s some folks in the neighborhood that have said that they like the color,” Vigue said, “that adding a little color to the gray, dreary weather that we get here frequently, is a nice bright spot in the day.”

The city has reached out to neighbors seeking an alternative.

Vigue said he asked a pair of concerned residents: “‘Can you get together and come up with an alternative where you’d get some color but not in a crosswalk which has regulatory issues and liability issues?'”

He said he’s awaiting an answer.

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