It was all hands on deck today at the 12th & Benton intersection traffic calming project. Artists, students and project coordinators were joined by a crew from NBC News Thursday as they worked diligently to complete their project before Monday’s deadline.
Project Coordinator DuRon Nutsell with Street Smarts Design + Build said that positive benefits were already happening at the intersection. “The first thing you notice here is it’s much calmer. It’s much quieter. Traffic is moving through the intersection just fine but at a much slower pace,” said Nutsell. “In addition to that, we’ve done two pedestrian refuge islands, which kind of breaks up the crossing for pedestrians and allows for some neighborhood branding and gives it a little more color as well.”
The project was funded by a $25,000 Bloomberg Philanthropies grant to carry out an asphalt art project, designed in collaboration with Kansas City Artists Coalition and street safety experts.
Artist Yarana French of Lee’s Summit was commissioned to paint the traffic signal box on the southwest corner of the intersection. The recent Kansas City Art Institute graduate chose a musical theme for the signal box that had previously been covered with gang graffiti. “Kansas City is a very jazzy town and very musical,” said French as she outlined the figure of a saxophone on one side of the signal box. “Music, art, dancing and food is a lot of what brings a community together so I wanted to combine it with different types of music because music gives people a lot of joy.”
Adrianne Clayton, an art teacher with KIPP Legacy School brought her daughter and two students out to paint two bus benches that will be installed at the bus stop on the
northeast corner of the intersection. After seeing an elderly woman stand in the hot sun for over an hour at the stop earlier this week, the decision was made to add two shortened bus benches to the project and have them carry the same positive message the rest of the project carries.
“We’re using a Martin Luther King Jr. quote: ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that,’ on one bench and the other will bear the quote, ‘hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,’” Clayton said. “This is a great opportunity [not only] to
practice my craft but to bring my students in as well, expose them to how public art projects work.”
Painting will continue through the weekend with the hopes of wrapping up on Monday.
In addition to the traffic calming measures, an area has been established for SPIN electric scooters and RideKC electric bicycles to encourage self powered transportation.
Traffic signals at the intersection have been modified to blinking-red in all directions for what Nutsell described as an observation period.
The NBC News piece is slated to air later this month.