City Lets You Paint Your Street or Sidewalk
'Paint the Pavement' program invites you to turn asphalt into artwork. But don't forget the anti-slip additive.
Milwaukee has no shortage of murals proliferating on the side of buildings, and now the Department of Public Works (DPW) is looking to increase the amount of artwork on the ground.
DPW is launching the “Paint the Pavement” program designed to create a framework to allow residents and community groups to paint crosswalks, sidewalks, curb extensions and side streets and intersections.
The crosswalk program dates back to 2018. But in a handful of other cases, DPW has also allowed groups to paint intersections. In at least one case, a street was painted without permission (Defund the Police on N. Water St.).
The new program does not provide direct funding to paint surfaces, but does lay out what permits are necessary, what the application process is and what is and isn’t acceptable.
DPW has identified what types of paint must be used, and that it must contain an anti-slip additive. The pavement also must be in good enough shape for the city to approve it being covered.
Those seeking to paint an area will need to apply for a Paint the Pavement permit, which includes a design review process, and, for everything other than a sidewalk, a special event permit to temporarily close the area.
State control was an issue that needed to be mitigated with the city’s most notable painted crosswalk – the rainbow walkways near Cathedral Square Park at the intersection of N. Jefferson St. and E. Wells St. The east-west street is technically Wisconsin Highway 32. Federal regulations prevent colored crosswalks from being painted on state highways.
“This was a lot harder than it needed to be,” said Alderman Robert Bauman when the crosswalks were unveiled in November 2018. To get around the regulation the city determined that the east-west crosswalks at the intersection are part of N. Jefferson St., a local city street, and therefore safe to paint. The new program is designed to avoid that kind of issue.
A copy of the Paint the Pavement guidelines is available on Urban Milwaukee.