Decorative crosswalks will be sprouting at a pair of intersections in downtown Santa Maria.
The city’s Downtown Revitalization Committee recently met to review the proposed decorative crosswalk designs.
The crosswalk beautification effort will be a Caltrans-led Clean California project with the focus on the intersections of Main Street (Highway 166) and Broadway (Highway 135) and Broadway (Highway 135) and Cook Street.
Eight crosswalks at the two intersections will receive the new designs along with other improvements in the area as part of the $1 million project.
Caltrans representatives emphasized that the program will move on a fast track, creating some challenges and opportunities.
“It’s pretty amazing for me to tell you that you will see our efforts on the ground by this time next year,” said Corby Kilmer, a senior landscape architect for Caltrans.
“It’s very exciting this program and community involvement is key to it,” she added.
Caltrans personnel presented design options to the committee — made up Councilwomen Gloria Soto and Etta Waterfield plus Planning Commissioner Tom Lopez and Recreation and Parks Commissioner Rebecca Carey. Waterfield was absent from last week’s meeting.
“We want to make it what is great for Santa Maria so you’re integral to helping us make these goals,” Kilmer added.
Six options involved assorted designs, all influenced by decorative tiles and other features in the area.
Due to traffic safety concerns, the range of color options remains limited, and one hoped-for combination of yellow and blue designs, as seen on decorative tiles, won’t be allowed.
Instead, Caltrans staff suggested gray-blue and a sandstone or cream in place of blue and yellow along with other earth tones such as terra cotta.
The panel narrowed the possibilities to three, including one featuring a flowery design and others with various patterns.
“Are we saying which ones we like now because mine keep changing … But they’re all good,” Carey said.
Lopez liked the graphic patterns, saying a flower design screamed Lompoc, which is known as the City of Arts and Flowers.
Discussion parsed the merits of larger and smaller designs for the crosswalks.
The design proposals still need to be presented to the city’s Public Arts Commission and the Recreation and Parks Commission.
Last week’s meeting focused on the project’s main element, the design, since it will need several layers of review through Caltrans.
Rather than painting on the asphalt, the project will involve designs on a preformed thermoplastic placed between traditional white lines designating the crosswalk.
That material is expected to retain colors and withstand the onslaught of tires traveling over them through the years, especially compared to paint.
After installation, the city will be required to maintain the design while Caltrans will handle keeping white lines in place.
Installation tentatively could begin in November, according to Caltrans estimates.
Features at City Hall and the downtown area inspired the proposed designs and colors, according to Dennis Smitherman, recreation services manager, who noted the council adopted Santa Maria’s Public Art Master Plan in late 2019.
“The idea is really to define this certain area of town,” he added.