St. Louis Had Enough of the Federal Government’s Crosswalk Paint Policy

St. Louis is not the only city to decide that the Federal Highway Administration’s policies against brightly painted crosswalks. The evidence is on the side of the resistance.

1 minute read

September 6, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

An intersection is adorned with paint depicting the Italian flag in St. Louis.

The intersection of Wilson and Marconi avenues in St. Louis now includes crosswalks to match the Italian flag already painted in the intersection when this image was captured in February 2022. | Google Streetview

St. Louis recently unveiled a sidewalk painted in the colors of the Italia flag to celebrate the heritage of residents in the neighborhood known as the Hill. The catch: they city bucked federal regulators to do it.

“The Federal Highway Administration takes a different view of such projects. Officials there have warned that they can be dangerous distractions for drivers and pedestrians,” writes Austin Huguelet in an article for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Huguelet cites a 2013 memo for evidence of the FHWA’s anti-color stance on crosswalks, and the issue has come up in the years since, such as a 2017 episode in Lexington, Kentucky and 2016 episode in St. Louis, as well as separate 2019 episodes in St. Louis (again) and Ames, Iowa.

According to Huguelet, resistance to the FHWA’s crosswalk policies is building across the country. “Officials in Seattle, San Antonio, Toledo, Ohio, and Ames, Iowa have been painting away. And earlier this year, Bloomberg Philanthropies released a study indicating that such artwork could lead to a drop in crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists in half.”

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