It’s a little hard to know just what to make of the letter from the Federal Highway Administration warning Mayor Jim Gray about the hazards of rainbow-colored crosswalks.
There’d been no public comment from federal or state highway officials about the crosswalks, installed on the four crossings at the intersection of North Limestone and Short Street in advance of the Pride Festival in late June. Although there are similar crosswalks in other U.S. cities and in other countries, there’s been no indication they have created a hazard.
That was until this odd two-page letter emerged, apparently reaching the media before the mayor’s office, in which Thomas Nelson, Kentucky division administrator for the FHA, sounded the alarm about the rainbow crosswalks on the city-owned streets.
And, although an FHA official said it was in response to a question by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, no one at city hall takes credit for the request. Even curiouser, the FHA said the request was verbal and the office didn’t record the name of the caller.
It’s not exactly like this is a treacherous intersection. In the last three years, only one collision there involved a pedestrian, and that was well before the crosswalks were painted. The collision total so far this year is one; compared to seven in 2015 and eight in 2016. No fatalities.
Alarming, right? It’s hard to escape suspicion in this hyper-politicized environment. Gray is openly gay and the colors represent the gay pride flag. A Democrat, Gray has not ruled out running against Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr next year.
Perhaps the mystery caller’s perceived hazard was moral, rather than physical.
Still, it’s perplexing that it merited a two-page letter from a federal official.
Color that curious.