Installations will commemorate Wilsonville art project for I-5 interchange
In 2012, the Wilsonville community added a little color to a major transportation project.
Alongside the conversion of the I-5 Wilsonville Road interchange from six lanes to eight lanes, local students created "Beauty and the Bridge" — murals that stylized the interchange underpass. Seven years later, the City will add panels to remind the community of the project and add more context to the color on the walls.
The City designed four installations that are slated for implementation by the end of the year, according to assistant to the city manager Zoe Monahan. The four panels, which will be placed on each corner of the interchange, will focus on the history of transportation in the Wilsonville area and the progression toward the current interchange, the vision for the project, the involvement of local schools and the placement of the 7,200 tiles.
Monahan said the project will cost just over $23,000, funded largely through a Metro Community Enhancement grant totaling $20,000.
"I think they (the installations) are beautiful. Councilor Charlotte Lehan and our team have been working very hard to make sure they are historically accurate and factually accurate," Monahan said. "The team did a great job to bring this together. Hopefully, it will help people understand the significance of this."
The first panel talks about Boones Ferry, which led to settlement in Wilsonville; the arrival of I-5, which gradually transformed the formerly rural community; and the city's unique positioning on both sides of the freeway and the $22.5 million interchange project, which began in 2007.
Another panel shows how the City viewed the initial design of the project as uninviting and that local leaders wanted to "bring more life" to it.
Lehan views the project as an incentive to walk or bike rather than drive a car and as a connection between the two sides of Wilsonville.
"We wanted it to be safe and friendly for pedestrians, moms pushing baby carriages. All of that is partially to make it a nice crossing of I-5. We have so many services on both sides of the freeway so they need to be connected," Lehan told the Spokesman in 2018. "The interchange between Wilsonville and I-5 is the biggest traffic headache, and so every car we can get out of there is an advantage. I think once we tell the story, more people will want to walk just to read how it all came together."
Another panel explains that the project was borne out of community members' concern that the underpass would not be safe and that local elementary, middle school and high school students worked on it. And another says that a mother and son team were contracted to install the tiles.
"It was a very unique project that involved large numbers of kids, many of whom are still in high school," Lehan said. "It involved a lot of kids, parents, teachers. It was truly a community effort. That's why it deserves to be recognized."
The City also hopes to add lighting to the interchange, but that project has yet to be funded.
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