Feds say Lexington rainbow crosswalk a ‘hazard’

LEXINGTON — Local media reported Wednesday that the Federal Highway Administration has told Lexington that their rainbow crosswalk is a legal liability.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

“While we recognize in good faith your crosswalk art was well-intended for your community, we request that you take the necessary steps to remove the non-compliant crosswalk as soon as it is feasible,” wrote Thomas L. Nelson Jr., administrator for the Kentucky division of the Federal Highway Administration in Frankfort, in a two-page letter to Gray.

The crosswalk at the intersection of North Limestone and Short Street was painted in rainbow colors just before the June 25 Pride Festival. The Blue Grass Community Foundation sponsored the project through a grant from its Knight Foundation Donor Advised Charitable Fund.

Lisa Adkins, president and chief executive officer of the foundation, said in June that the rainbow crosswalk was intended to celebrate the city’s rich diversity and improve safety at a busy intersection.

She said Wednesday that other cities in America have rainbow crosswalks and she has not heard of any concerns about them.

“Lexington prides itself as being an inclusive city,” Adkins said. “The crosswalk does that and adds to the downtown’s vibrancy.”

In the letter, Nelson said that crosswalk art diminished contrast and put pedestrians at risk. The newspaper asked if the FHA what would happen if the city didn’t change the crosswalks and if they have brought the issue up to other cities that have crosswalk art. Nelson hadn’t responded as of press time.

“It surprises me that none of these issues exist in other parts of the country where they are doing the same thing,” Josh Mers, chairman of Lexington Fairness, told the Herald-Leader. “It’s just another effort by this administration to try to push Lexington into a corner.”