EVERETT — The city’s colorful new art installation is a real traffic stopper.
And it didn’t cost taxpayers a cent.
What’s up with that?
It’s a traffic signal controller cabinet by the sidewalk at the southeast corner of 41st Street and Colby Avenue. Instead of steely gray, the tall vertical box is adorned with a popular North Cascades scene of a snow-capped mountain reflected in bright blue lake water.
It’s something pretty and calming while you anxiously wait for the light to change.
Kathleen Baxter, spokeswoman for the city’s Public Works department, said the vinyl wrap was a free option by the cabinet supplier.
Accepting it was a no-brainer.
“Well, if it’s no cost, why don’t we see how it works and give it a try?” she said. “We’ve been wanting to try it. It was a good location.”
The corner is along the corridor that is part of the 41st Street Freight Mobility Improvements project for better traffic flow and pedestrian safety.
TrafficWrapz, a company specializing in protective film to beautify ugly utility objects, installed the wrap.
Baxter said the city’s traffic engineering division selected the scene showing Mount Shuksan reflected in Picture Lake from thousands of choices. Mount Shuksan, which is near Mount Baker, is one of most photographed mountains in Washington state.
Utility boxes are a magnet for graffiti, a ready canvas for gangs and teens with spray cans.
“(The wrap) is supposed to be graffiti resistant,” Baxter said.
Cities worldwide, including several in Washington, are transforming signal cabinets into artful masterpieces.
Lynnwood has decorated two, with a third in the works, said Fred Wong, Lynnwood’s community programs coordinator.
“It’s an economical way to add art, beauty and history to our public spaces,” Wong said.
The first project last year features butterflies and flowers on a box at the intersection of 196th Street SW and Scriber Lake Road by the Big Lots store near Highway 99.
Students at nearby Cedar Valley Community School had a hand in designing it.
In May, Lynnwood arted up a second box at Alderwood Mall Boulevard and 40th Avenue W with bicycle and railroad graphics highlighting the segment of the Interurban Trail that was the former Seattle-Everett Interurban Railway.
Officials even invited the public to celebrate with a ribbon-cutting and sparkling cider toast.
At the Everett site, there wasn’t any hoopla when the mountain majesty debuted last week.
Maybe diners at the Ivar’s and McDonald’s across the street raised a cup of soda in appreciation.
There are 177 signalized intersections maintaining law and order in Everett.
“We don’t have plans to do any more,” Baxter said. “We’ll see how it performs and what people think about it. We wanted to see what’s the response.”
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Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.