Pima Association of Governments manages the Transportation Art by Youth Program, which incorporates art into regional transportation projects. The program allows youth to acquire both artistic experience and valuable work ethic. PAG member jurisdictions work with summer youth programs, local school art programs or Las Artes Art and Educational Center, and partner with professional artists to design and construct projects.
Each summer an average of 40 to 50 youth benefit from the program, which was established in 1995. The students' concepts and techniques are aimed at humanizing the roadway system, enhancing urban gateway features, and helping define the unique identify of their respective communities. The maximum amount of funding is typically $25,000 per year per PAG member jurisdiction.
Projects recently completed include:
- A bicycle, pedestrian and equestrian refuge area and sculpture was recently constructed in Oro Valley on the southwest corner of Hardy and Northern Avenue. Oro Valley high school students designed and constructed this impressive art piece with a theme that reflects the local neighborhood equestrian heritage. The seating and refuge was created using ceramic and metallic tiles of varying sizes, designs, shapes and textures.
- A mosaic mural strip with tiles was installed in the pedestrian underpass/tunnel under West Sahuarita Road in the Town of Sahuarita. The mural is very colorful and includes Arizona themes in the tile work.
- A sculpture was installed adjacent to the roadway near Michael Perry park in the City of Tucson.
- Four gateway tile signs marking the South 4th Avenue entryways into the City of South Tucson were constructed and installed at 26th Street and 4th Avenue and at 40th Street and 4th Avenue.
Major benefits of the program include both the quick and effective implementation time frame as well as the high visibility of resulting artwork along major transportation corridors. There also is a strong sense of community pride in the work efforts undertaken, coupled with a sense of accomplishment for the youth involved since the result of their artistic efforts will be appreciated and endured for many years to come.