Council, staff agree asphalt art projects, including rainbow crosswalks, need to last longer

Asphalt art is temporary in nature, and most artists who create the projects try to use materials that don’t begin to fade for at least three to five years.
Arenas District Pride Crosswalk
Rainbow crosswalks in The Arenas District and elsewhere in the city begin to wear almost as soon as they are painted. Different materials may help prevent that.

The city is one step closer to having a new asphalt art project, and it might lead to helpful changes to similar existing artwork that has so far proven problematic.

Driving the news: Last week, the Palm Springs City Council approved a $20,000 request from the Public Arts Commission for the project, destined to be painted adjacent to the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center off West Tramview Road.

  • With funding now approved, deciding on the artist and design will now begin. For that, arts commissioners will work with the Desert Highland Gateway Estates Community Action Association.

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Bigger picture: Dozens of cities in the United States and abroad have funded similar projects. While not the goal of this particular project, when installed they have been shown to decrease crash rates and increase drivers yielding to pedestrians.

At issue: Asphalt art is temporary in nature, and artists who create the projects try to use materials that don’t begin to fade for at least three to five years. In Palm Springs, however, rainbow crosswalks painted with commercial grade driveway paint in the Arenas District and along Palm Canyon Drive began to fade almost immediately after installation.

  • City Councilmember Jeffrey Bernstein raised that issue before the council’s 5-0 vote to approve funding for the new project, asking that any artist hired be required to use more durable paint.  

City staff agreed to explore using many different materials, including more expensive but longer lasting thermoplastics.

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