Image of colorful asphalt art in the middle of an intersection in Kansas City. Image credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies

Asphalt art is a proven solution for beautifying streets, reducing crashes, increasing walkability, and supporting local artists. Despite broad support for asphalt art from people who use and design streets, art within the public roadway has faced regulatory hurdles at the state and federal levels because of concerns about compliance with street design standards and guidance. These concerns have persisted despite a growing amount of research that supports the safety effectiveness of asphalt art. 

For example, in 2023, Our Streets Minneapolis organized alongside Northside youth to ask the City of Minneapolis and MnDOT to install artwork crosswalks on a notoriously unsafe intersection on Olson Memorial Highway. MnDOT ignored the community’s request for artwork crosswalks, citing their internal policies while showing little desire to amend them to address ignored safety issues at the Van White & Olson intersection.

The state legislature should create an asphalt art pilot program, directing MnDOT to implement ten asphalt art projects on MnDOT roadways across the state, including on Olson Memorial Highway. The program would require the department to study the projects’ effectiveness on pedestrian safety and test which materials are best at withstanding Minnesota winters. In addition to studying durability and effectiveness, a pilot program is also an opportunity to expand partnerships with community groups and local artists.

Ask your legislators to support an asphalt art pilot program.

Take action and contact decision-makers.