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City Seeking Artists to Paint Murals for 'Creepy' 191st Street Tunnel

 The DOT is looking for five artists to create murals as part of an ongoing effort to improve the space.
191st Street Tunnel
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FORT GEORGE — There’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

The Department of Transportation is seeking five artists to create murals for the 191st Street 1 train tunnel, marking the final step in a months-long effort to refurbish the once dark and dilapidated passageway that residents have described as “creepy."

The agency is looking for art that will “help brighten and enliven the passageway,” the DOT said.

Each artist selected for the project will be given a 200-foot long section of the 900-foot tunnel to decorate. The murals, which are being commissioned through the agency’s public art program, will stay in place for one year.

One of the murals will be chosen to replace the painting currently decorating the entrance to the tunnel, the DOT said.

In 2008, the agency partnered with artist Belle Benfield, the Groundswell Community Mural Project and the local YMHA to create the entrance's mural. The piece, which depicts the 1 train as a roller coaster looping past local landmarks, has since been marred by graffiti.

Installing public art is the last step in a refurbishment project that has included replacing dim bulbs with brighter LED lights, repainting the tunnel and improving its cleanliness.

The renovations came after years of complaints from residents about the three-block long tunnel, which is the only way to access the 191st Street station from Broadway.

Residents were happy to see the changes, which were completed in the fall of 2014, but there has been some concern over growing vandalism in the freshly painted space.

Virginia Annibale, who lives near the tunnel, brought the issue to the March meeting of Community Board 12’s transportation committee.

“I was very happy to see all of the improvements,” she said. “But, bit by bit, every time I walk through, there’s more graffiti.”

During the year that the murals are in place, the DOT and the artists will work together to maintain the paintings.

The deadline to submit a proposal for the project is March 20. The murals will be installed in the space sometime in May 2015.