Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office on late Friday released the cost to install the rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue as misperceptions continued to spread about how the project is funded.

“The initial cost to install the crosswalk is approximately $196,000,” Mayor Reed’s Deputy Press Secretary Jewanna Gaither told Georgia Voice via email. “The life expectancy of the crosswalk is 10 years. Our contractor will make any necessary repairs, including normal wear and tear updates, as part of the warranty for the first year at no charge. The Department of Public Works will be responsible for pressure washing the crosswalk as needed.”

The project is publicly funded, unlike the temporary rainbow crosswalks installed during Atlanta Pride in October 2015. That project was spearheaded by gay Atlanta man (and, later, reality TV figure) Robert Sepulveda, Jr. and garnered over $44,000 in donations, which raised the ire of many in the community who felt people should have donated their money to other local LGBT causes. At the time, city officials said safety concerns kept them from making the project permanent.

The installation of this year’s permanent rainbow sidewalks began at 5 a.m. July 1 and finished ahead of schedule the next day, in time for runners in the annual Peachtree Road Race to dash across the intersection in the historically LGBT part of town.

The project was met with its own bit of criticism coming from two distinctly different sides. A Facebook Live video taken by Georgia Voice as the crosswalks were being installed drew a flood of anti-LGBT reactions from around the country, ultimately generating over 2,300 shares, 4,200 comments and 275,000 views.

Local transgender activist Monica Helms expressed her frustration that one of the crosswalks wasn’t done in the colors of the Transgender Pride flag, which she created in 1999.

“I don’t see anything saying that one of the crosswalks will be trans colors,” Helms wrote on Facebook on July 1. “I am angry, even though I contacted the City Council (Alex Wan) and the mayor’s office. Others, like Sarah Rose, have also contacted people involved with this. I think the trans community, whether you live here or not, express your outrage at our omission. The mayor’s office is 404-330-6100 and his e-mail is mayorreed@atlantaga.gov. Remember that Georgia has the fourth largest percentage of trans people in the country and the fifth largest by numbers. Let him know that. One of the rainbow crosswalks can be painted over after the fact.”

Mayor Kasim Reed announced the plan to install the crosswalks on June 12, the one-year anniversary of the Pulse shooting.

“I believe that symbols of unity matter; in recognition of the outstanding and ongoing contributions of Atlanta’s LGBTQ community to our city, I am pleased to announce today that the City will install the rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street year-round,” Reed said in a news release. “This intersection in Midtown is recognized for its history as a hub for Atlanta’s LGBTQ community, and it is fitting that such an important and recognizable place should feature the rainbow flag.”

The local push for permanent crosswalks came when local LGBT musician Sarah Rose, lead singer of Sarah and the Safe Word, started a Care2 petition campaigning for it. The petition garnered more than 20,000 signatures, including those of several Atlanta mayoral hopefuls, before Reed’s announcement in June.

Atlanta’s rainbow crosswalks follow similar projects done in Seattle, Key West, Philadelphia and the Castro in San Francisco.

18 Responses

  1. Daniel English

    Of course, people are going to be pissed either from feeling underrepresented or not having every petty concern handled. That is why it is pointless to try to make everyone happy. LGBT rights, in general, wouldn’t exist if it was about making every party either in favor or opposition happy.

    Reply
  2. Pete

    First I am excited the city finally moved and made this happen. This particular corner means a lot to many and has special meaning to me for coming to terms.

    But, This article seems a tad misleading on a couple of fronts that I fear take away from the good thing that has happened. 1) “the ire of many in the community who felt people should have donated their money to other local LGBT causes” Not sure how you define “many.” The overwhelming majority of the LGBT community supported the crosswalks. There were a few who complained loudly and frequently. However, these people failed and fail to realize that it is likely a decent percentage if not most of the donors give money to other LGBT charities as well. I asked some of these “many” dissenters which charities they actually give money too. I was usually answered with silence. Additionally, it simply isn’t any of their business which causes people want to help by giving personal donations. I gave to the crosswalks and give to other local and national LGBT charities. This ridiculous myopic view was just plain silly and did nothing to further any LGBT cause.

    2) As far as the cost goes this sounds very high and, I believe, is much higher than the original permanent cost estimate given at the time of the original movement. I have a feeling the mayor included paving and sidewalk repair that has nothing to do with the actually strips that were installed and were needed and probably planned regardless of this installation. You may want to check on that as the higher number is sure to cause additional hysteria and ugliness.

    At the end of the day, the strips look great. It is sad to me that not all of the LGBT community is celebrating their installation. I know there are many flags that represent specific subsets of the community and are important to them and that is great but not what this is about and that is not what the rainbow is about.The rainbow flag was created as an all-inclusive symbol. It was not nor is it specific or exclusive. Maybe we can take a breath and celebrate that. As a reminder it only represents:
    Hot pink = Sex
    Red = Life
    Orange = Healing
    Yellow = Sunlight
    Green = Nature
    Turquoise = Magic/Art
    Indigo = Serenity
    Violet = Spirit
    So let it represent us all. Let it represent a step forward. Goodness knows we have enough fights down the road that we will all have to fight together.

    Thanks to all that helped make this happen. And thanks to the City for in the end doing the right thing.

    Reply
    • SB

      I think we should create a “straight” flag, and put it downtown as well. All in the name of “fairness” and “equality.”

      Reply
    • Shannon

      Well said Pete! If we think about, was there ever a specific movement to have a trans flag put down in midtown, if not why wait to be outraged when the pride flag is put down?

      Reply
  3. John Leopard

    I remember the arguments when the rainbow flag was first invented, it was designed to represent inclusivity and not any particular orientation or identity. Since then there have been other “rainbow flags” and I have no problem with that. We can all be different and still united in our desire to live free and unmolested by the majority. I also remember when the first Gay Pride banners were raised, but the city of Atlanta refused to include the word “Gay” on the banners. I also remember when the telephone book would not allow a listing with “gay” in its title. I also remember the effort to name a park in Atlanta after Gay activist John Howell (John Howell Memorial Park).

    Reply
  4. Ricky

    If transgender person just want to be separate why arent we the LGBQ community?

    Reply
    • Shannon

      I totally agree with you. I will throw in if she is so outraged about not having the trans flag omitted, should she not commission to have one put down somewhere in Midtown? I could have sworn we were all together in this crazy assed world. Maybe I’m wrong.

      Reply
  5. Bill

    Wait a minute. It costs two stacks of high society *per year* to maintain a crosswalk? For the occasional pressure wash and touch up?

    Where’s the outrage at that???

    Reply
  6. Aaron

    The price seems excessive, but remember, it’s not a paint job. The crosswalk is made from custom fabricated plastic tiles that were then thermally applied (i.e. melted into the pavement). They will easily last ten years. Bright colored paint would have to be redone frequently. So when you factor in the fabrication and installation costs, plus the savings on maintenance, it doesn’t seem
    QUITE so high.

    Reply
  7. Bob Ross

    This should have been done with private money only. Clearly we’re paying to much in Atlanta city taxes if public funds are being used for projects like this.

    Reply
  8. Mark A Martin

    What is NOT being taken into consideration is the fact the city paved the center of the intersection before painting in the crosswalks. Atlanta is slowly but surely trying to get as many roads repaved as possible. Piedmont is among the roads to be repaved. They paved the center of the intersection so they would not have to repaint the lines again when Piedmont is paved.

    Reply
  9. John Wayne

    Seriously WTF is this? More wasted money. I am triggered. My feelings are boiling. This nonsense has got to stop.
    The first year is paid for and after that, who maintains it? We going to sacrifice a couple hundred chickens to raise money to maintain the pretty colors? Let’s think long term and how nearly 200k worth of money is going to be spent on a crosswalk that people will trample on everyday. They did some similar nonsense at the Permiter with Brick crosswalks and after 2 years the bricks were separating and causing indentations which caused many cars to slam their front ends down into the ruts, which of course created deeper indentations. So guess what. They repaved and removed the bricks because after it’s all said and done all we want to do is to get to the other side of the road safely and not gay-ly.

    Reply

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