By Kevin Collison
The intersection of Westport Road and Wyandotte is a calmer, more attractive place thanks to DuRon Netsell and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
A $25,000 grant from the Asphalt Art Initiative, one of Bloomberg’s philanthropic endeavors, has allowed Netsell to blend traffic-calming measures and street art to create a whole new look for the well-traveled intersection by the Westport Post Office.
“Traffic had been flying through here,” Netsell said, “but now it’s changed the whole feel.”
Netsell and his firm, Street Smarts Design + Build, likes to take on projects that help pedestrians get a leg up in this car-dominated city.
Last December, with the help of Midtown KC Now and the city, he applied to the Bloomberg program for a grant to implement his idea for Westport. Kansas City was one of 16 cities out of 210 applications from around the country to be chosen.
The Kansas City application was unusual in that it wasn’t just about creating street art, it also had the pedestrian safety angle.
Using boulders, bollards and planters, Netsell narrowed the intersection to make it easier for pedestrians to cross. Two additional stop signs were added by the city to make it a four-way stop intersection.
“It’s changed the whole feel of the intersection,” Netsell said. “It shortened the crossing distance by half and gives priority to pedestrians.”
Narrowing the intersection with the bump outs also created space at each corner for artists to do their work, about 4,500 square feet total.
Four artists were chosen following a request for proposals to do each corner, and a fifth was picked to do a mural on a nearby building.
Work began in early October and took about 10 days to complete.
Netsell said the project, which also includes areas for bicycle and scooter parking, has been well received.
“People take photos and put them on Instagram,” he said. “It shows traffic calming can be fun, not boring.”
Next on Netsell’s street-calming, art agenda is the Volker Neighborhood. He plans to install a similar project at the intersection of 38th and Wyoming.
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