ABC7 WATCHDOG

New York Ave. bridge art project cost $1.3 million

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - The mayor calls this New York Avenue bridge art installation project one of the most important gateways into D.C. And other city leaders agree, saying the massive steel structure is both bold and innovative. But others say the $1.3 million price tag is a waste of money.

The public art is made up of two massive steel wing-like structures. They each weigh 22 tons and tower five stories over the new New York Avenue bridge in Northeast. And while some observers think the public art is aesthetically pleasing, others have no idea what it's supposed to be.

According to city officials, the art cost $500,000. The pylons holding it up cost $800,000. That amounts to a total of approximately $1.3 million.

"For that thing? Wow," said Chance Gains, District resident. "And they could spend that for other things in the District."

The city's Department of Transportation and the Arts Commission came up with this idea. City officials say the money to pay for it came from city and federal tax dollars.

The steel sculptures were integrated into the bridge as a gateway through a part of the city called "NoMa," which is undergoing an economic reawakening.

"We see it as a meaningful and festive entrance to NoMa," explained Kent Bloomer, the project's designer. 

Mayor Vincent Gray fully backs this installation, believing that any city worth living in has art in it.

"This area was so unremarkable for decades," said Mayor Gray. "And what we are trying to do is make it a remarkable area so people will remember it when they come into the District of Columbia."

In fact, Mayor Gray has added an additional $2.5 million dollars for future public art projects.

There are some who appreciate this effort at beautifying the city, as almost everyone we spoke with agreed that they like the lights that adorn the installation at night.

But others aren't convinced this was a good use of their money. One person we spoke with suggested the much-needed finances could have gone toward the District's school system.

Regardless, city officials are not apologizing for the cost, and the Arts Commission reportedly set the $500,000 budget when it started the project back in 2009.

 

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