Pedestrians cross Front Street at Main where the city is in the middle of a multi-day project to paint the crosswalk in rainbow colors on Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Pedestrians cross Front Street at Main where the city is in the middle of a multi-day project to paint the crosswalk in rainbow colors on Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Colorful crossing comes to downtown Juneau — legally this time

Working group will pay for the project

There’s no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, but Gold Street isn’t too far away.

The first portion of a rainbow-striped crosswalk was painted Wednesday morning at Main and Front streets in downtown Juneau. Public Works Director Mike Vigue said the colorful crossing could be done as early as Thursday morning.

“We’re expecting it tomorrow if the weather holds,” Vigue said in an interview Wednesday. “Worst case scenario would be Friday morning.”

The new crosswalk is a compromise of sorts after downtown crosswalks last year received multiple, unauthorized multi-color paint jobs.

A working group interested in pursuing a city-sanctioned rainbow crosswalk formed last summer, and the person or people behind the guerrilla crossings were never identified.

“I’m sure more than the person who did it knows who did it, but I have no idea,” Vigue said.

The working group was given some guidelines from the city for the crosswalk, Vigue said, which means the rainbow bands are in between two solid white lines, the crosswalk is located at an intersection where people expect to stop and it contains reflective beaded glass.

Progress on the project was cheered on by the members of the Rainbow Crosswalk Working Group.

“I kind of teared up this morning when I took pictures of the first colors. I’m feeling proud of the people who came together and persevered to actually see paint on the ground. I can’t wait to take my kids by it. I’m excited and proud that we can see this installation every day that celebrates the strength and diversity of our community,” said Steve SueWing, coordinator of the Rainbow Crosswalk Working Group, in a press release.

SueWing said in an interview seeing a project he’d work on for about 13 months reach a finish line, coupled with the public display of support for diversity, was moving.

Rainbows are an icon of LGBTQ pride, but SueWing said in his experience everyone in Southeast Alaska appreciates a good rainbow. The multi-colored crosswalk, SueWing said, is also a symbol for allies and the way a diverse collection of colors comes together to form a greater whole.

He said he’s hopeful the crosswalk will prove popular with tourists, too.

While City and Borough of Juneau employees are painting the crosswalk, the city is not spending any money on the effort, Vigue said.

Instead, the working group is fundraising to pay for the work, which is expected to cost about $3,000. The group has a fundraising goal of $10,000 and Juneau Arts & Humanities Council is serving as a fiduciary for the project. As of Wednesday afternoon $2,900 had been raised.

SueWing said he expects that number to climb as people can see the crosswalk, and he’s optimistic there will be funding for a full three years of the pilot project.

The crosswalk will serve as a pilot program to determine whether more rainbow crosswalks would be a feasible undertaking.

“We have some concerns about the durability of the paint,” Vigue said. “How long it will last? How much work it will take to keep it looking good?”

He said typically, the city paints its crosswalks once a year, but vibrant colors may be dulled by a Southeast Alaska winter.

“We will definitely see how it wears this fall and then over the winter when there’s studded snow tires and plows and everything going over it,” Vigue said.

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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