St. Paul neighborhood will ‘Paint the Pavement’ this weekend to get drivers to slow down

St. Paul neighborhood will ‘Paint the Pavement’ this weekend to get drivers to slow down

St. Paul neighborhood will ‘Paint the Pavement’ this weekend to get drivers to slow down

A neighborhood on St. Paul’s east side is trying something new in an effort to pump the brakes on speeding.

They will ‘paint the pavement’ at Ivy Avenue East and Kennard Street North this weekend.

People who live in the area told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the intersection has become a problem spot for reckless driving.

“We find that folks are flying into this intersection and not necessarily seeing the stop signs,” said Lisa Theis, executive director of the Greater East Side District 2 Community Council. “The speed limit is 20 and we are getting speeds of 30, 40, even higher.”

The intersection is not far from the major thoroughfares of White Bear and Maryland Avenues.

There is a park with sports courts nearby, drawing children and teenagers from throughout the area.

“Any kid, you’re going to worry about safety,” said Carren LaBrasseur, who lives nearby. “We’ve been scared, frustrated. We don’t want to lose a life.”

The neighbors signed a petition to paint turtles in the crosswalks and create large murals across Kennard Street.

Such a project requires city approvals and permits, which they received.

The intersection was blocked by barricades Friday, in preparation for a community painting day Saturday.

The colorful murals were designed by Briauna Williams, an artist from North Minneapolis.

The murals are in the shape of a large fish, featuring water lilies and other aquatic elements.

“It will be like a 3D water feature, almost like the road has given away to a pond,” Theis explained. “It’s just something that kind of changes the eye, so then you automatically slow down.”

Williams will sketch the outline of the murals, with community members invited to fill it in with paint, in what Theis describes as a ‘paint by number’ style project.

St. Paul’s Public Works department told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that asphalt art is an up-and-coming ‘traffic calming’ tool across the country.

A Bloomberg Philanthropies study last year found asphalt art improved safety in five states, with a 17% in crashes, 50% decrease in crashes involving pedestrians and 27% increase in drivers yielding at crosswalks.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked the St. Paul Police Department if street art is considered a distraction for drivers. A spokesperson said SPPD is not opposed to street art, as long as it is approved by the city. They provided this additional statement on the subject:

“Speeding vehicles are dangerous. Drivers of speeding cars jeopardize the safety of fellow motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who live, work or visit our city. This street art is an example of a neighborhood that cares. If you see it while driving through the area please slow down and think of the community that lives there.”

Those who live near Ivy and Kennard hope this can be a fun project that will brighten up the block and encourage people to pump the brakes.

“We have neighbors who really care about their neighborhood and they want to make it safe,” Theis said. “This is just a great example of neighbors coming together.”

The community ‘Paint the Pavement’ project kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday and is expected to run through the afternoon.

Coordinators note the project involves latex paint, so those with a latex allergy may want to participate in a community clean-up at Prosperity Park instead. Garbage bags and gloves will be provided.

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