Juneau’s rainbow crosswalk tug of war continues

By June 19, 2018 August 31st, 2018 Community, Juneau, Local Government

A crosswalk on Calhoun Avenue at the entrance to Juneau’s Cope Park was painted in rainbow colors early Tuesday, June 19, 2018. By mid-afternoon city crews had repainted the crosswalk white. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

Juneau city officials are appealing to late-night street artists to stop after another rainbow crosswalk appeared early Tuesday.

It didn’t last long.

“I told our street maintenance people to treat this like any other vandalism or graffiti and paint it over,” City Manager Rorie Watt.

This isn’t a new issue. It’s happened more than a half-dozen times at one intersection on Gold Street above the state Capitol. The latest was on Calhoun Avenue at the entrance to Cope Park.

While city crews were painting over the latest rainbow crosswalk, Watt was penning an open letter addressed to “late night rainbow crosswalk painter(s)” asking for the activity to stop.

“The truth of the matter is we’ve got, I think, 297 crosswalks in town,” Watt said. “We do get sued regularly and when people are driving, I want them to see a crosswalk and think, ‘That’s a crosswalk; I don’t want to hit a pedestrian.’ I don’t want them to be distracted and think, ‘Oh, that’s a nice rainbow!'”

The open letter notes that rainbow crosswalks in other communities are done in collaboration with municipalities.

The letter closes by encouraging the artist or artists to reach out to city staff to find a compromise.

Earlier this month city street crews posted digital cameras to deter painting on Gold Street.

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.

A camera overlooks a notorious crosswalk at Seventh and Gold streets. The camera was installed as a deterrent. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

Juneau Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl had been critical of the cameras. He said the city’s latest attempt at dialogue is a good start.

“We hit the zero-tolerance approach last year, it didn’t work,” Kiehl said. “Now we have this message from the city manager saying, ‘Let’s work together, let’s figure something out.'”

Because street crews are bound to follow a uniform standard: white lines can’t be embellished with colored paint.

“If somebody covers up those white lines, we’re going to have to put the white lines back – that is the law,” he said. “But there’s room between the white lines to work with the city.”

It costs about $300 for the city to re-stripe a crosswalk.

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