‘Rainbow’ crosswalk expected for LGBT Parade and Pride event

NORTHAMPTON — Thousands of participants in the city’s annual LGBT Parade and Pride event May 3 are expected to march over a new “rainbow” crosswalk being installed on Main Street as a symbol of the gay community.

Crews from the Department of Public Works late Thursday night began the weeklong process of converting an existing crosswalk between the entrance to Thornes Marketplace, 150 Main St., and the front of TD Bank, 175 Main St. The new crosswalk will include both standard white and rainbow-colored stripes.

David Veleta, the city’s senior civil engineer, said crews were expected to grind off the current crosswalk markings overnight Thursday. On Sunday night, crews will work on the layout of the new crosswalk and install new two-foot-wide white stripes. The white stripes are necessary in order for the crosswalk to remain legal.

The six rainbow color bars will then be installed between the white stripes next week. The colors will be red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, with one stripe of each color placed on either side of the median.

Rather than paint, Veleta said the crosswalk will consist of a plastic material that has a granular component for traction. He said the colors should be rich and bright.

“I think people will like it when it’s done,” Veleta said.

Melinda Shaw, a former organizer of Northampton’s gay pride march, proposed the idea for the rainbow crosswalk earlier this year after hearing about similar projects in other cities. It is believed to be among the first in an East Coast community.

The project was approved in March by the Board of Public Works and the Transportation and Parking Commission. The BPW agreed to donate the labor to install the crosswalk, while Shaw raised the $1,700 needed to buy the materials and pay for other costs.

Veleta said the crosswalk, which is on the May 3 parade route, should be finished by the end of next week and ready for marchers.

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