Similar to the image above, the vast majority of highway and railroad underpasses across the country are the epitome of sterile concrete and overgrown weeds. Left as underutilized vacant space, they hardly engender any sort of warmth or welcome, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists. Essentially, left unto themselves, they are dreary eyesores.
Greater Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, including the City of Mt. Pleasant, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, and Union Charter Township on the other hand, have worked in unison to transform both sides the M-20 underpass beneath U.S. 127 (future Interstate 73) into a non-motorized visual oasis of colorful flowers and handsome streetscaping. Simple placemaking steps such as this go a long way towards enhancing community pride while reducing visual pollution.
Complimenting this endeavor, Greater Mt. Pleasant has adopted one of the best non-motorized master plans I have ever seen. This impressive and informative plan from 2011 should go a long way towards bringing similar healthy placemaking efforts throughout the micropolitan area.
Other options to consider for turning a drab underpass into something exceptional could include murals, lighting accents, engraved designs within the concrete, or sculptures. Kudos to Greater Mt. Pleasant for showing the rest of us a great example of how to create eye-candy from a sterile highway underpass. Well done!