CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some Pier to Peer murals are already severely stained by drainage from Interstate 64, and while the murals can be cleaned because of a protective clear coat, a maintenance plan for the murals hasn't been established.
The issue was discussed at Charleston's Strong Neighborhoods Task Force Wednesday afternoon, fittingly after a heavy period of rain earlier in the day.
"It's time to be serious about that investment," said Lori Brannon, a neighborhood planner with the city's planning department.
Brannon said $62,000 was spent paying artists for the murals, begun in coordination with FestivALL. In addition, about $10,000 was spent at local businesses for supplies.
During heavy rain, water is directed off the bridge and onto the ground below. While some drain pipes feed directly into the ground, heavy rains cause the pipes to overflow and spew drain water down the piers, something they are designed to do.
The water, already mixed with dirt and oil from the road, mixes with more dirt and bird feces on the way down the pier, creating long streaks across the murals.
Cleaning doesn't take anything more than a sponge and dish detergent, but must be done gently to avoid damaging the protective coating or the mural itself.
The task force decided to arrange a meeting with the state Division of Highways to find a way to divert the drainage away from the murals or to protect the murals with a collar around the pier.
City Planning Director Dan Vriendt said the state should be interested in assisting with protecting the murals, because it allowed the piers to be painted and because money was spent re-painting the underside of the bridge.
"They have a stake in trying to make this look nice, too," he said.
At the same time, the task force discussed making the area friendlier to pedestrians, including the addition of lighting, signs and landscaping. Considering some of those aspects will need to wait until construction on the interstate is complete.
"The artwork is great, but it's not a comfortable place to spend time," Brannon said.
In other business, the task force heard from West Side Main Street Director Stephanie Johnson about a proposal to paint plywood the city has used to board up windows at the Staats building on West Washington Street. The plan is in the early planning stages.
Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Mur...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.