Manchester turning traffic boxes into works of art

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MANCHESTER, MO (KPLR) – Your morning commute on Manchester Road might put you at ease the next time you stop at a light and see a giant goldfish staring back at you.

'As the planning and zoning director I'm looking for art in the public realm,' says Franz Kraintz the Planning & Zoning Director for the City of Manchester.

If art elevates life, then your commute through the city of Manchester might bring a moment of clarity at a series of stop lights.

'We saw in Maplewood and other communities around here that they were painting traffic signal control boxes at these intersections and we've always been talking about how we beautify the corridor,' says Kraintz.

Manchester is not the first municipality with the traffic signal box art.

Clayton, the City of St. Louis and Maplewood have spruced up their surroundings by turning boxes into canvases.

'As long as it's not distracting or causing a safety concern to drivers and there's no negative impact to the electrical components inside the box, we're open to exploring the possibilities to these aesthetic enhancements,' says Missouri Department of Transportation engineer Michelle Voegele.

Manchester road is a series of poles, power lines and signs.

Aesthetically pleasing to the eye it is not.

But as State Highway 100, it is an evacuation route out of the city of St. Louis in an emergency or natural disaster.

So combining form and function wasn't a priority.

'I think that was a little bit of concern was that who was going to notice them,' says Kraintz.  'But in the short time they've been out, we've had a lot of favorable comments and everyone has been very enthusiastic about it in fact asking, when are we going to do more?'

There are five boxes painted with a sixth on the way.

Thanks to a grant from the regional arts commission and MoDOT they'll be turning heads, and turning lights green and red for the next 20 years.

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