Cornell Local Roads Program

Does the MUTCD allow intersection murals or widespread application of artwork to the street?

Photo of a colored picture being painted on a crosswalkExclusive of a crosswalk that may be present, intersection murals and street artwork are not traffic control devices and the MUTCD most likely does not directly apply. Intersection murals and street artwork then become a right-of-way issue. Paragraph (b) of 23 CFR 1.23 provides that all property within the right-of-way boundaries shall be devoted exclusively to public highway purposes. Intersection murals and street artwork have a potential to compromise motorist safety by interfering with, detracting from, or obscuring official traffic control devices. They can also encourage road users—especially bicycles and pedestrians—to directly participate in the design, loiter in the street, or give reason to not vacate the street in an expedient or predictable manner. For these reasons, exceptions for intersection murals and street art are not made in accordance with Paragraph (c) of 23 CFR 1.23.

Past practices of intersection murals and street art have compromised the veracity of the crosswalk. The crosswalk is a traffic control device and is under the authority of the MUTCD.

Guidance for aesthetic treatments in crosswalks is provided here. Discussion in the memo on the potential of crosswalk art as a source of distraction could be analogous to intersection art and street murals.

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