Monday, June 18, 2018
Transportation

South Seminole Heights neighborhood hopes street mural brings calm to the road

TAMPA

A "mandala" is a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism representing a microcosm of the universe. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas help establish a sacred space.

Perfect.

Now, on the corner of N River Boulevard and W Louisiana Avenue in the heart of Seminole Heights, there is a bright 28-foot wide, orange, blue, red and yellow mandala painted on the road.

See it as you speed around the corner in your car?

Slow down.

Yeah, there it is.

Nice and easy.

Mission accomplished.

The idea for this mandala — believed to be the first of its kind in Tampa — was born a few years ago from several hearts, souls, ideas, needs and wants.

Perhaps more than anything, the neighborhood wanted cars to slow down, because kids are running around the area since there is a community park next door.

Yelling. "Kids at Play" signs. Slow-down signs. Nothing seemed to deter the speeders.

Local folks started Googling what other cities had done to solve such troubles: Seattle, Portland, Boulder.

It turns out that street murals in those cities, sometimes featuring mandalas, appeared to make drivers ease off the accelerator.

Less accidents. More safety. Less stress.

The other upside was that the works of art were cool, and were often a point of pride because the neighborhood kids and parents often participated in the art's creation.

Enter Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez and South Seminole Heights Civic Association president Stephen Lytle. Together they pushed a proposal through the bureaucracy, spearheaded fundraising and grant opportunities, got approval for the area's smooth road smoothing and resurfacing, held meetings to vote on entries from local artists, and …

Suddenly they had a design and an artist: St. Petersburg's Catherine Thomas, who was thrilled to see the project through completion.

"I wanted to create a design that showed the vibrancy and energy of the neighborhood and at that same time was relatively easy to make because I knew children and parents would take a huge part in the painting of it," said Thomas, an artist in residence for Moffitt Cancer Center, helping patients heal through creating art, often, in her case, mandalas.

"Driving over here this (Saturday) morning I was so excited because I had met many of the neighbors (at a "meet and greet the artist" celebration) and I just knew it was going to be well organized and it was going to have a good energy."

It did.

After an hour of chalking the outline with Lytle, the painting commenced at 10 a.m. with dozens of kids and parents dipping brushes and rollers into "weather borne traffic paint" precisely mixed and prepared by Thomas.

Less than six hours later, thanks in part to clouds holding back their rain, the mural was complete.

Beautiful.

Moving forward, the plan, as specified in the neighborhood association's by-laws, is to re-paint the mandala every two years and maintain its integrity as needed.

"Hopefully this is the start of more street murals around the city," Suarez said. "This has been a been a great project for everyone involved."

Contact Scott Purks at [email protected]

     
Comments
Petition language reveals details of Hillsborough sales tax transportation initiative

Petition language reveals details of Hillsborough sales tax transportation initiative

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections on Friday approved petition language that will let a new group of transportation advocates begin gathering the 48,000 signatures they need to get a sales tax initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot.All ...
Published: 06/15/18
Carlton: A trolley instead of a boondoggle? About time, Tampa

Carlton: A trolley instead of a boondoggle? About time, Tampa

You could rightly call the vintage streetcars that trundle between downtown Tampa and Ybor City big, beautiful boondoggles.Charming?Yes. An integral part of this city’s unique history?Absolutely.And in their current incarnation, overpriced, inefficie...
Published: 06/15/18
Federal judge halts work on Suncoast 2 toll road

Federal judge halts work on Suncoast 2 toll road

U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. granted a temporary restraining order on Thursday to halt the work that has already begun on the extension of the Suncoast Parkway — aka the controversial "Suncoast 2."The toll road now ends at U.S. 98 at the n...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Hillsborough group pushing new referendum on raising sales tax for transportation

Hillsborough group pushing new referendum on raising sales tax for transportation

TAMPA — In 2010, Hillsborough voters soundly rejected a 1 cent sales tax hike backed by their elected leaders to raise billions of dollars for roads, bus expansion and light rail. In 2016, county commissioners helped develop a new transportation plan...
Published: 06/14/18
SunPass apologizes to customers who couldn’t access accounts after website maintenance

SunPass apologizes to customers who couldn’t access accounts after website maintenance

Users were unable to access their SunPass accounts on Monday after the release of a system redesign that took the system’s web site, app and hotlines down for a week.From June 5-11, the SunPass website, hotlines and mobile app were taken down for sys...
Published: 06/14/18
Elon Musk to build 125 mph underground transit line serving Chicago O’Hare

Elon Musk to build 125 mph underground transit line serving Chicago O’Hare

Elon Musk has taken on a task perhaps more challenging than launching rockets into space: getting passengers from Chicago’s O’Hare airport to the Loop in 12 minutes, roughly three to four times as fast as the current taxi journey.The plan for the "Ch...
Published: 06/14/18
This trooper pulled over a driver - then realized the man had delivered him nearly 27 years ago

This trooper pulled over a driver - then realized the man had delivered him nearly 27 years ago

New Jersey state trooper Michael Patterson was on patrol recently when he pulled over a white BMW for a routine traffic stop.He asked the driver for his license and registration, and the two started making small talk. It turned out that the driver, M...
Published: 06/13/18
Fares eliminated on downtown Tampa trolley following FDOT grant

Fares eliminated on downtown Tampa trolley following FDOT grant

TAMPA — Fares on the TECO Line Streetcar in downtown Tampa will be eliminated for three years following a grant funded by the Florida Department of Transportation.The grant provide $2.67 million to Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, allowing it to t...
Published: 06/12/18
Tampa road work forces office workers to wait up to an hour to get out of their parking garage every day

Tampa road work forces office workers to wait up to an hour to get out of their parking garage every day

TAMPA — At 42 floors tall, the largest office building on Florida’s Gulf Coast offers some spectacular views.But good luck getting out of it.Since the start of a $5.7 million street resurfacing project late last year on Kennedy Boulevard and Jackson ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18
After 43 years driving cabs, he has plenty of stories to tell

After 43 years driving cabs, he has plenty of stories to tell

A criminal on the run? Check. Two drunk elderly women seeking a threesome? Check. A repentant murderer? A possible ghost? A stabbing victim who doesn’t seem to know he’s been stabbed? Check, check and check. Come up with an outrageous scenario and Je...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/11/18