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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A refurbished Charlotte underpass is designed not only to light up the street, but to also act as a gateway between a historic neighborhood that's staging a comeback and Center City.
Uptown's newest streetscape project has a glow all its own.
Where West Trade meets I-77, brilliant colors light up the night, and there are two goals.
One is to enhance public safety, and the other is to change perceptions about the neighborhood.
State Senator Malcolm Graham who works full time for Johnson C. Smith University is among those who's backing the bridge project.
"Historically, the bridge was seen as an artificial barrier between a progressive uptown Charlotte and what we're trying to do down West Trade street Beatties Ford Road. The light project erases that barrier," he said. "We've already accomplished bringing the Gold Rush to West Trade street, building the arts factory."
The Smith campus at West Trade and Beatties Ford Road is making wide strides in connecting with Center City Charlotte, and this new project offers another telling example.
Funding is coming from the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte Mecklenburg which trumpets the work with a slide show on You Tube.
The official title is Passing Through Light.
Nicole Bartlett is with the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
She said, "One thing we try to do with public art is not always beautify a neighborhood, but to always have another purpose, so this I-77 project. It's not just beautification but safety."
The concept of beautification and safety has been carried out near the Noda community for the last several months.
The Matheson Bridge project is the creation of artist Will Puckett.
Puckett said, "This area was a place for vandalism and graffiti people who slept and camped out over here.Hopefully, we can turn these forgotten spaces into something that's bright and hopeful."
Back on West Trade, Malcolm Graham feels the new project has the potential to attract future investment.
"Before any development can occur, the corridor has to be perceived as safe, and clean. This project goes a long way in a visual way that it's a safe place to be."
According to the Arts and Science Council, the price tag 175 thousand dollars, and that the 60 lights change in sequences of five minutes.
It is the first in the state to test what that the N. C. Department of Transportation's calls its new art on the right-of-way policy.