MARYSVILLE (CBS13) – From drug deals in the dark to light and art, the city of Marysville has come together to transform a dangerous tunnel into a safe passageway for kids.
“We’re trying to make this a real source of community pride, something that people feel comfortable walking through, feel safe walking through,” said Josh Paul, a school resource officer with Marysville Police Department.
For years, Marysville police say the pedestrian tunnel on highway 70 has been too dark and unsafe for children walking to school.
“There was a lot of drug usage, fights going on, some other nefarious activity,” said Officer Paul.
The community came up with a plan last December to light up the passageway. Marysville Police Department, Caltrans, two local school districts and several area businesses donated time and money to renovate the tunnel.
“These are all LEDs and they’re lower wattage,” Paul said, referring to the new string of lights installed last month. “The entire tunnel — both left and right side — takes less energy than a standard hair dryer.”
The steel was donated by a local business and the $6,000 lights were donated by Home Depot. Still to come: security cameras and speakers, which will pump classical music into the tunnel 24 hours a day.
“Going to create some nice ambiance, nice elevator music, if you will,” Paul said. “The hope is that this will continue to stay clean, people will take pride in it, it’ll be something that they value.”
Officer Paul says statistically murals are graffitied less often than a blank wall, out of respect for the artist. So to create the two murals that bookend the tunnel, the community reached out to someone they’ve known for a long time.
“I’m honored,” said Louie Lethridge, the local Marysville artist selected to paint the murals. “I’m honored to be able to do this.”
Lethridge has been painting murals in Marysville for 30 years.
“My favorite part really is trying to get all these cars to go up the road and the angles,” he told CBS13.
The acrylic paint was also donated. So all Lethridge had to do was brave triple-digit temperatures and keep the paint from drying too soon.
“When they look at it, they know it’s for them,” he said, referring to the local children who use the tunnel to walk to school.
Caltrans has offered to pay the bill to keep the lights on 24/7. Officer Paul says they’re hoping to finish installing the cameras and speakers within the month.