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A Whale Surfaces on Graham Street

Over the weekend a whimsical whale and fish design took shape on S Graham Street midway between 51st Avenue S and 48th Avenue S, not far from the Graham Hill Elementary School.  The whale represents the school’s mascot and the multi-colored fish celebrate the diversity of the school’s student body and neighborhood. 

According to Julie Grove, who coordinated the project, “It was a perfect weekend for painting – we had plenty of sunshine and heat so the paint dried quickly.”   No less than ten adults and five children worked fast and furiously each day, Saturday and Sunday, to complete the huge street mural.  They finished two hours early. Why the push to complete the project?  The neighborhood wanted to finish the mural in time for the new school year which begins next week. The enthusiastic volunteers included parents, neighbors, children and even Graham Hill teachers and the principal of the school, Christina Morningstar.  The average age of the student painters was eight years old.  Volunteers from the Harborview Medical Center Safe Kids Seattle Coalition helped out by bringing lunch for the hard working painters.  

Julie, mother of third and fourth graders attending Graham Hill, is credited with being the true star behind the street mural having coordinated all aspects of the project to make it a reality.   While the mural seemingly appeared overnight, she worked on organizing the project for over a year. She started by applying for a $20K grant from “Safe Kids USA” supported by FedEx which was awarded last fall.  The grant funded several elements including safety education, organization of ‘walking school buses,’ installation of speed bumps in front of the school on Graham street, and the mural.  Julie applied to SDOT for the permits needed to paint the mural and worked with an architectural firm (Pacific Telecom Services / PTS Architecture) to produce the  design in a form the city could approve. SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program provided an additional $10,000 for curb ramp and traffic circle improvements near the school.

If you and your neighbors are interested in painting a mural of your own on a street  in your neighborhood, please review SDOT’s Customer Assistance Memo (CAM) 2506 on “Painted Intersection or Street Murals”, available .   The CAM provides a step-by-step guide to the process. It is important to note that you will need to submit a to-scale drawing no less than three, preferably more)  months prior to the desired installation date to allow the proper time for review, the petition process, and to design the traffic control plan.   Also keep in mind, while the mural is not a traffic calming device per se, it is a community building project that may have an indirect effect on helping to slow traffic by making drivers aware that this is a socially organized neighborhood and encouraging motorists  to be respectful  of those who live in the area.  For more information about the Graham project, please see our blog Whale of a Design to take Shape on S Graham Street, posted last week, August 25.