CITY BEAT: Street-painting project aims to beautify, make roads safer

This picture from New York-based planning and consulting firm Fitzgerald & Halliday shows how Waterbury’s Green is managing the voluntary efforts of the Public Art Committee to paint the areas near the crosswalks. Contribution from the Waterbury Public Art Committee


Colorful rainbow patterns will decorate the streets around the city’s green next month as part of a voluntary action by the Waterbury Public Art Committee.

Angie Matthis, chair of the committee, said it partnered with the CT Regional Council of Governments and the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments to turn zebra crossings around Waterbury Green into walkable works of art.

Matthis said committee members, who are also members of the CT Regional Council of Governments, have access to unspent grants that the council received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The project is valued at $ 16,000 from the grant.

“As part of the Government Council and CDC’s Complete Streets grant, the project is beautifying spaces and promoting safe and healthy recreation for residents of the community and calming traffic in pedestrian zones,” said Matthis.

The grant will be used for the paint and will also support traffic studies and design by New York-based planning firm Fitzgerald and Halliday, who have worked with the council on previous projects, she said.

“There has been a lot of discussion and planning to make sure it is flashy and pretty, but it doesn’t create any other problems for traffic and the city,” she said. “[The grant] For us, this means a lot of support from the city government and transportation engineers, as well as city planners and graphic designers, to make sure what we do is compliant. “

The colorful abstract shapes, she said, will not cover the crosswalks, but will compliment them.

“A very small amount of crosswalk is actually used,” she said. “Most of the design is actually a bump. We are not allowed to paint over the white bars on the zebra crossings. they have to be there, this bar structure. “

One such zebra crossing is on Church Street heading north across the green where hopefully the painted road will prompt drivers to slow down, Matthis said.

“The idea is that cars actually see that and don’t cut off that close to the corner,” she said. “It’s a real experiment on traffic calming where they hope to reduce the speed in this area.”

She said it was hoped that the drivers would see the painted road and slow down because they would avoid driving on it, she said.

The designs are based on a painting by Litchfield artist Kristen Baker in the Mattatuck Museum entitled “Unfair Advantage,” said Matthis.

“We as a committee decided that it would be really interesting to take something from the Mattatuck Museum’s permanent collection and see if we could somehow use that artwork as inspiration,” she said.

The abstract nature of the work as well as its “great color complexity,” said Matthis, made it a good choice.

“You can’t bring too many details onto the street. It pretty much just has to be shapes and colors for volunteers to get the design on the road as soon as possible because it’s only a one day project, ”she said.

Volunteer painters are guided by tape that is placed in the shape of the designs, she said.

House paint is used because it gradually erodes the pavement over a six-month period, Matthis said. A more permanent color could be used later in case the city decides to make the designs a permanent feature around the green.

The painting project is planned for May 15th.

For information about the project, call Matthis and leave a message at 203-756-8021 ext 3993 or visit

Contact Mike Patrick at [email protected] or on Twitter @RA_MikePatrick.

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