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Plans for Colorful Bellevue Crosswalk Under Legal Review

Plans for a colorful paint job of the crosswalks at the intersection of Grandview and Ward Avenues in Bellevue are under legal review.

The faded crosswalk is less than half a block from Grandview Elementary School.

The issue was raised at this week's city council meeting.

The plans for the paint, which call for various shades of blue rather than the traditional white, were set to be approved by the city, but a concern was raised after a rainbow-colored crosswalk in Lexington drew the ire of the federal government.

The Federal Highway Administration wrote a letter to Lexington Mayor Jim Gray last November asking that the rainbow colors be removed because it does not comply with federal regulations and poses a legal liability to the city.

“While we recognize in good faith your crosswalk art was well-intended for your community, we request that you take the necessary steps to remove the non-compliant crosswalk as soon as it is feasible,” wrote Thomas L. Nelson Jr., administrator for the Kentucky division of the Federal Highway Administration in Frankfort, in a two-page letter to Gray, as reported by the Herald-Leader.

Lexington allowed the colorful crosswalk at the intersection of North Limestone and Short Street ahead of last year's Pride Festival.

Bellevue City Administrator Keith Spoelker said that while the city is favorable to the change at Grandview and Ward, the city wants to stay within the law.

It is implied by the federal government that non-white crosswalks can pose a distraction to drivers, defeating the purpose of boosting safety in such traffic control devices.

An annual block party is planned on Saturday, September 22, in the alley between the 200 blocks of Foote and Washington Avenues. The painting could take place that day, possibly requiring a temporary closure of the intersection so that the paint could dry.

A note to the city building from one of the organizers behind the proposed crosswalk suggested that all the colors used in the rendering, seen above, would likely not be used. Instead, three shades would likely be deployed.

The proposed project has the support of Bellevue Independent Schools superintendent Robb Smith. 

"As superintendent, there is no higher priority than student safety. Any measure that can add a level of safety for our kids is a measure I fully support," Smith wrote in an email to Councilman Ryan Salzman, who serves as the city government's liaison to the school district. The email was read during the council meeting. "And although I am unaware of the exact plans for the crosswalks, professionally enhancing them through the use of color or school district branding is a worthy endeavor."

The City of Cincinnati last month unveiled a rainbow crosswalk of its own.

The Bellevue city attorney, Mike Surrey, was asked to look into the matter.

Other notes:

Police Chief Lee Estepp said that no overdoses were reported in the city in August.

City council approved the recommendation of the planning & zoning committee to increase the density in the zone created to accommodate the forthcoming Kent Lofts project on Grandview Avenue from 70 dwelling units per acre to 75.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher