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Trenton, NJ

Art creating a gateway at a transit hub

The Project

“Stepping Into Tomorrow” is a creative reimagining of the public space in front of the Trenton Transit Center through installation of asphalt art at the intersection, vinyl banners throughout the space, and a bike rack. The Center is one of the busiest train stations in the Northeast and is considered a major gateway into the city. Although the Center is within walking distance of the historic Mill Hill neighborhood as well as City- and State-owned offices and local businesses in downtown Trenton, many choose not to walk or bike to the Center because in its current state the route is not welcoming.

Local nonprofit Artworks Trenton issued an RFP and commissioned three semi-finalists to create designs for the crosswalk project. Following a virtual public presentation, George Bates’ design was selected and planning quickly took place for road closures, materials, and community involvement. Over 16 hours on September 4th & 5th, 2021, Bates along with a team of artists, community members, students, and volunteers, installed the final crosswalk artwork for “Stepping Into Tomorrow.” The finished design includes ten silhouettes of students within the Trenton community, ranging from elementary school to college-aged, representing a passing of the torch to this next generation and future leaders as they “step into tomorrow.” In conjunction with the asphalt art project, Artworks partnered with NJ Transit and the state Arts Council on an open call for local artists to install banners and a bike rack at the site. After six artists were selected, their own “Stepping Into Tomorrow” creations were installed on August 28.

“Trenton Transit Center is the 7th busiest transit stop on the Northeast corridor with convenient access to bus, light rail, and train service. Improving the visibility of the intersection will slow down vehicular traffic and enhance pedestrian safety for the thousands of commuters that traverse this area every day.” 

Dan Fatton, Chair, City of Trenton Planning Board

Use the slider to see the transformation

Before
After

Neighborhood

Trenton Transit Center

Number of Intersections

1

Installation Dates

September 4-5, 2021

Lead Partners

City of Trenton

Artworks Trenton

NJ Transit

NJ State Council on the Arts

Lead Artists

George Bates

Liz Amaral

Laura Beard

Chee Bravo

Wills Kinsley

Raphael Ogoe

Leon Rainbow

Laurie Pettine

Elisa Bates

Lamar Vannoy

Materials

SealMaster ColorPave paint

Vinyl banners and bus decals

Powder-coated, welded metal bike rack

Square Footage of Artwork

2,375

Cost

Design: $20,000

Labor: $5,300

Supplies: $6,285

Admin: $5,000

Links

Website

Facebook

Instagram

The Project

“Stepping Into Tomorrow” is a creative reimagining of the public space in front of the Trenton Transit Center through installation of asphalt art at the intersection, vinyl banners throughout the space, and a bike rack. The Center is one of the busiest train stations in the Northeast and is considered a major gateway into the city. Although the Center is within walking distance of the historic Mill Hill neighborhood as well as City- and State-owned offices and local businesses in downtown Trenton, many choose not to walk or bike to the Center because in its current state the route is not welcoming.

Local nonprofit Artworks Trenton issued an RFP and commissioned three semi-finalists to create designs for the crosswalk project. Following a virtual public presentation, George Bates’ design was selected and planning quickly took place for road closures, materials, and community involvement. Over 16 hours on September 4th & 5th, 2021, Bates along with a team of artists, community members, students, and volunteers, installed the final crosswalk artwork for “Stepping Into Tomorrow.” The finished design includes ten silhouettes of students within the Trenton community, ranging from elementary school to college-aged, representing a passing of the torch to this next generation and future leaders as they “step into tomorrow.” In conjunction with the asphalt art project, Artworks partnered with NJ Transit and the state Arts Council on an open call for local artists to install banners and a bike rack at the site. After six artists were selected, their own “Stepping Into Tomorrow” creations were installed on August 28.

“Trenton Transit Center is the 7th busiest transit stop on the Northeast corridor with convenient access to bus, light rail, and train service. Improving the visibility of the intersection will slow down vehicular traffic and enhance pedestrian safety for the thousands of commuters that traverse this area every day.” 

Dan Fatton, Chair, City of Trenton Planning Board

Neighborhood

Trenton Transit Center

Number of Intersections

1

Installation Dates

September 4-5, 2021

Lead Partners

City of Trenton

Artworks Trenton

NJ Transit

NJ State Council on the Arts

Lead Artists

George Bates

Liz Amaral

Laura Beard

Chee Bravo

Wills Kinsley

Raphael Ogoe

Leon Rainbow

Laurie Pettine

Elisa Bates

Lamar Vannoy

Materials

SealMaster ColorPave paint

Vinyl banners and bus decals

Powder-coated, welded metal bike rack

Square Footage of Artwork

2,375

Cost

Design: $20,000

Labor: $5,300

Supplies: $6,285

Admin: $5,000

Links

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Use the slider to see the transformation

Before
After

Best Practice Highlight: Adapting the Design to Rising Challenges

The intersection in front of the Transit Center is heavily used by cars, buses, and pedestrians, so a balance had to be struck between closing the intersection for long enough to appropriately install George Bates’ design and keeping traffic disruption to a minimum. Artworks and Bates worked together with City officials and determined that their team could execute the mural painting over 16 hours on a weekend (12 hours the first day, 4 the second). The City coordinated this closure and Bates adapted his original design to be able to be more efficiently installed, making the shapes larger and with fewer overlaps. The first install day began with laying down coats of a yellow base, chalk grid and design lines, and then teams of volunteers were assigned a color to paint the silhouettes (one volunteer creating the outline edge with a small roller, another with a larger roller filling big spaces and others with brushes completing edges and detail work). Halfway through the first day, Bates removed some elements from his design, determining this would not reduce the overall impact of the design but would buy crucial time to complete the installation.

Artist Testimonial

“I had been looking to more directly incorporate the local community into a project, and the relationships Artworks had within the area, and their exceptional team, were perfect for this endeavor. One of my favorite moments from the install day was the emotion and enthusiasm a mother had for the project while watching her young son paint his own portrait into the piece. The goal is always to have a community experience their own sense of ownership of a site-specific public art work, and when they do there’s nothing better than that. As Art is a thoughtful reflection, and a thoughtful reflection is an act of kindness. I like to think there’s more kindness at the intersection now.” 

George Bates, Artist


For inspiration and tips for the creation of art on roadways and public places, download the Bloomberg Associates Asphalt Art Guide which features successful plaza and roadway art activations around the world, as well as key steps and tips for developing such projects.

Asphalt Art Guide