Traffic Signal Boxes

Notice: Important Updates on Traffic Box "It Takes A Village"  

The City of Durham’s Transportation Department and NCDOT are partnering on the replacement and upgrades of approximately 435 signal cabinets, commonly known as a traffic boxes, across Durham.  The signal cabinet system upgrades will permit the City to implement new traffic control technologies to improve safety and traffic flow throughout Durham.   

Due to the upgrade of the Durham signal system, the signal cabinet featuring the mural “It Takes A Village” will be transferred from its current location at the corner of W. Club Blvd and N. Buchanan Blvd and its new location on the campus of Walltown Park Recreation Center on W. Club Blvd. The City of Durham is commitment to honoring the work of the artist Brenda Miller Holmes and the Durham Mural Crew, who created the artwork in 2017 with diverse community engagement efforts, including in-depth interviews that informed the bright, colorful design.   

The public should not anticipate immediate progress on the traffic box removal and relocation as the contracted work has a lengthy project timeline, which limits the City’s ability to determine the exact date of the relocation at this time. At least two months prior to the relocation, the Transportation Department and Cultural & Public Art Program will notify the surrounding neighborhoods and broader Durham community.   

During 2021, the Cultural & Public Art Program and Department of Parks and Recreation staff will collaborate with the community to inform the new location of the artwork within Walltown Park Recreation Center's campus, in addition to hosting and funding activities to re-envision the artwork with the community, while maintaining the original design on the traffic box.   

It Takes a Village, 2017 

Durham Mural Crew & Brenda Miller-Holmes


Walltown Narrative by Brenda Miller-Holmes and the Durham Mural Crew: 

"To understand our designs, it is important to start with a description of our community-engaged process. This is central to the artwork we create and it starts with supporting the youth participants to take the lead. Together we are reaching out in each of these communities in a multitude of ways including door to door flyers, setting up a table and interviewing people onsite, calling churches, via social media and emailing with community associations and organizations to find opportunities to meet people where they are. Our focus is on engaging the people who will interact with the artwork on a daily basis, asking them what they would like to see, and letting them know that their voice is central to what we will create. In 2017, the DMC youth participants brainstormed the following questions to lead the conversations...  

What comes to mind when you think of your neighborhood?   

What is your vision for your neighborhood?   

Are there any local historical events/people that you want to honor?   

What kind of art do you want to see?  

Is there an elder in the neighborhood that you want to honor?  

Is there a young person in the neighborhood that you want to honor?   

Our approach to the Walltown design began as a result of these outreach efforts, including in-depth interviews that the DMC youth conducted with community members that have longevity in the neighborhood. Our participants included a multi-generational array of current residents including (then Durham City Council member) Mayor Steve Schewel, and local journalist and entrepreneur, Justin Laidlaw, of Runaway, Inc. This neighborhood had very specific recurring themes that were echoed by many of the people we spoke with, mainly centered around how “close knit” this diverse community is. The phrase “it takes a village” came up numerous times as people reflected on how safe they felt growing up here as everyone looked out for each other’s children. Unity was a strong theme, particularly around the idea of being “united in struggle”, as people described how organized the neighborhood is and how residents look out for each others’ needs.   

For this design we took a much more symbolic versus literal approach to the images. In the center facing the intersection of Club Blvd. and Guess Rd. is a house with an open door and a path drawing the viewer in. This warm-color graphic design sits in a rectangular field of a similar toned, cooler violet. This rectangle is nested in a field of gradually lightening concentric rectangles emanating out from the center. This design element creates depth, which serves not only as a visual interest, creating vastness on a small surface, but a symbolic interest, referring to the idea of many forming one and the ripple effect that the kindness of one can have on a whole community.  

As the concentric rectangles wrap around the box, they fade into gradually lightening stripes that eventually start the puzzle piece pattern. Flanked on each narrow side of the box is a hand in a gesture of solidarity, done in warm, bright shades of green. These hands symbolize the unity that is the strength of the Walltown community. The puzzle piece pattern wraps from each side of the box to cover the back. These puzzle pieces are done in a perimeter pattern with the outer pieces in cool blues, migrating inward from cool pinks to warm reds, oranges and yellows. This use of color again creates depth and the puzzle pieces themselves symbolize the idea of “close knit” and how every part is needed for the whole.   

In the center of the pattern in a graphic eye done in shades of violet that pop against the complimentary yellow. The eye is a symbol of safety, referring to neighbors’ input regarding feeling looked after with “lots of eyes on me”. It is also a symbol of creativity, as many creative educators were called to mind while we conversed with neighbors. As a whole, the design sings with lot’s a bright color and is impactful from a quick glance in traffic as well as a thoughtful look while walking by."