5th Street tunnels get colorful makeover through Mural Arts project

Shara Dae Howard
July 09, 2018 - 5:11 pm
Local artists Brad Carney (left) and Melissa Mandel (right), along with student volunteers, paint a smaller version of the mural before they will paint the pedestrian and vehicular tunnels along Fifth Street under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Shara Dae Howard | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Benjamin Franklin Bridge is getting a makeover — but you have to go underground to see it.

Mural Arts Philadelphia and the Delaware River Port Authority have partnered together to create murals along Fifth Street in the pedestrian and vehicular tunnels.

Local artists Brad Carney and Melissa Mandel were selected to lead the project.

"The mural is about connecting and bridges," explained Carney, who noted both of their designs are about nature, history and connectivity. The murals are meant to artistically tell the story of the bridges, the people who built them and the community they serve.

They're three weeks into the process of painting a smaller version of the mural in preparation for the on-site project. The pedestrian tunnel is expected to be completed by the fall.

"The dedication should be sometime in October, in time for Mural Arts Month," Carney added. "Crossing my fingers."

The overlapping of colorful modern scenes with the natural history of the area also create a visual time machine of sorts, said Carney.

"Underneath the Walt Whitman [Bridge], the seagrass and ocean was there before us and will be there after us," he said.

Carney has been chosen to complete another high-profile mural in Center City, which will be announced later this summer.