Beautifying the Center Street Underpass

Some of the problems are deeper than the surface

Beautifying the Center Street Underpass

POCATELLO, Idaho - When going through the Center Street Underpass in Pocatello, it's obvious there has been wear and tear by looking at the graffiti, crumbling cement and, more recently, the heavy flooding. But will it be seeing better days in the near future?

Idaho Lorax is heading plans to paint murals along the pedestrian tunnel walls.  There are 25 sections along one wall.  With four sections, that's 100 sections of wall to paint. Lorax wants to start with the painting Friday in time for the Idaho State University homecoming events.

"It's a white canvas," Lorax said. "Obviously people want to express themselves, and that's where I came in here. The first thing I said was 'let's have youth expression.'"

But there are some things a coat of paint can't fix. Lorax went before the City Council to suggest the project, and the council had other underpass worries.

While Mayor Brian Blad says the structure of the underpass is sound, there is definite cosmetic work that needs to be done, like the concrete.

"It's just the concrete that's peeling off," Blad said, "so we do have a grant application out. We'll eventually be able to go in and replace that concrete and make it look good."

Blad says the City Council gets the final approval of art that will go in the tunnel, but a different board, assembled from various community members, will look over the submissions first.

"It's city property," Blad said. "The City Council is going to retain the responsibility of making sure that we approve what we want to see down there."

Blad added that he hopes this mural idea will give those who are vandalizing the walls of the tunnel with graffiti a positive outlet for their art. Lorax agreed, and said he's excited to help bring some vivid colors to this blank canvas.

"We're trying not to restrict what people have to say because it's a living art mural," he said. "Express yourself. It's something other communities do and other communities I've worked with have done."

If you are interested in participating in this project, you can sign up at the following locations: Creative Art Studio at 327 E. Center St., Deckadence Skate Shop, 326 W. Center St., La Laraine's Gallery of Fine Art, 102 N. Main or The Orange and Black Store, 123 S. Main St.

Submissions must include a written description or a drawing of the planned artwork, and must be turned in at one of those locations to sign up. All paintings must be completed by Friday, Oct. 4.

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