On Friday, downtown drivers on Douglas will see lots of color being painted on the street between Washington and Hydraulic.
Traffic will be narrowed to one lane each way as Traffic Control Services and volunteer painters in the Douglas Design District install a simulated median on Douglas.
The median area will be outlined and painted with a bright geometric design incorporating the six official colors of the Douglas Design District, as designed by Bill Gardner.
Don't drive over this painted median, though, because it mimics where an elevated median will be installed in a few years, say leaders in the Douglas Design District.
"This is not a permanent solution," said Janelle King, owner of The Workroom and president of the Douglas Design District. "The intention is to start changing those driving patterns and being able to visualize what the future will look like once those medians and bumpouts are elevated."
A few weeks ago, the city started restriping parking on the south side of Douglas in this same area, adding 53 angled spots to the street.
On Wednesday, crews painted white medians to prepare for the designs. Previously the median area was a center two-way left-turn lane.
So when will the concrete start moving?
As of now, the city has tabled its Douglas beautification plan in the area until 2023, expected not to be finished before 2025. That plan calls for a landscaped median, as well as curb bumpouts and crosswalks.
Why do this now, then?
The street-painting project, which was approved by the Design Council in December, is the district's way of telling the city it wants those improvements done sooner. It's part of an initiative the district is calling its 2020 Vision.
"These plans have been in the works since 2007 ... it’s been a long time, and we’ve continually gotten pushed back," King said. "We started talking with the city to see what can we do today to start giving people a visual way to understand what the future project looks like."
On April 20, workers are scheduled to paint the areas where the elevated curb bumpouts will be installed.
There will still be two lanes of traffic going in each direction, King said.
"The goal is to showcase that by adding these medians and bumpouts, it really doesn't change your driving patterns," she said. "It’s not going to slow down traffic, it’s not going to impede, it's not reducing any lanes."
The district received a $10,000 donation from Jill Docking to get the project underway, King said.
Noted local muralist Josh Tripoli is heading up the street-painting project.
Professional crews with Traffic Control Services will spray the design on the street, but volunteers are needed to hold down 10-by-12-foot stencils and touch up details.
Volunteers from a Wichita State University art class, a sorority and Wichita East High's pre-IB program will be on hand to help, but walkups are welcome to help with the project at their convenience, Tripoli said.
Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. Friday at The Workroom, 150 N. Cleveland. Reverie coffee will be provided, as well as snacks and water (from Legacy Bank). Breakfast burritos will be provided by Jimmy's Egg.
The project will span an area of approximately 6,000 square feet, Tripoli said.
"It’s really going to add a huge amount of color in the district," Tripoli said. "Even if people do drive on it, I think they’re going to varnish it and make sure it lasts a good while."
Volunteers will be given bright yellow T-shirts (from Hopping Gnome Brewing Company), and the lane closest to the median will be blocked off for the day to ensure safety, Tripoli said.
The median-painting project should conclude by 5 p.m. Friday, with the bumpout project to be completed from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 20.