Using 3-D projectors in the middle of the night, 17 artists from around the world gathered in the city of Newark, New Jersey with one focus: complete a 1.39-mile-long mural along Route 21. The mural wall lies beneath the Amtrak line that travels along the Keystone Corridor and Northeast Regional lines. Route 21 is a heavily traveled road, with an estimated 1.1 million vehicles driving the roadway daily. How could the artists complete the mural safely?
Drawing inspiration from various landmarks in Newark, artists were tasked by the Newark Downtown District, the City of Newark and the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation to paint the longest mural on the East Coast — and the second-largest mural in the country. The mural is titled “Gateway to Newark: Portraits” and honors the city’s upcoming 350th anniversary. It’s also part of a larger initiative called “The Gateway Effort.” This initiative wants to make entry points into Newark more appealing to tourists and members of the community.
“The murals honor our rich history, cultural intersections and narratives of day-to-day life here in Newark,” said Mayor Ras Baraka in a press release. “The images represent a powerful, yet entertaining and spirited, compilation of visual expressions.”
Throughout the artwork, images of real people from Newark and of subtle designs from the Newark Amtrak station, such as a lion from the entrance of the building, remind commuters about the heart and passion of this metro city.
Seventeen artists collaborated with the City of Newark and the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation. Many were from New Jersey, but several artists hailed from other countries, such as Peru, Mexico and Brazil. Though they had different artistic backgrounds and interests, all had the common goal of bringing beautiful art to a public space.
Long before their first stroke of paint, the artists had to submit their designs to the Newark Downtown District. Once approved, a safe place for the artists to paint became an issue, especially with the busy roadway nearby.
THE NEED FOR TRAFFIC CONTROL
“‘Gateways to Newark’ is on one of the busiest thoroughfares in Newark, and over a mile of that wall does not have a sidewalk,” Noelle Frieson, Director of Marketing & Business Strategies for Newark Downtown District, said. “To make ‘Portraits’ a reality, we needed to close a lane on Route 21 between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
“Flagger Force was fundamental to this process. We were able to count on them to not only close the road in a timely and effective manner, but to help us keep artists, assistants, ambassadors and staff safe. We look forward to working on other Gateways to Newark with Flagger Force as our partner in safety.”
“My crew and I felt very proud to be part of this project,” said Joseph Wiggins, Flagger Force Advanced Crew Leader from the King of Prussia Operations & Training Facility. “It was an interesting job, and to see the artists put a lot of work into each panel showed their commitment to improving the communities.”
Being able to participate in an exciting event like the creation of the mural shows just how varied traffic control for events can be. We often think of traffic control in terms of highway and roadway construction projects, but special events require special traffic control methods and practices.
At Flagger Force, we’re open to any type of traffic control for events big or small. We will sit down with your organization and determine the traffic control you need in terms of:
- Lane restrictions / deviations / blockages
- Number of flagmen and traffic control guides
- Appropriate signage (both fixed and manual)
- Adequate traffic taper lengths and buffer zones
- Duration of the traffic control services
We look forward to being part of your next special event and providing the safe, high-quality temporary traffic control that lets your event to go off without a hitch.