MAPLEWOOD, NJ - One of the mainstays of the colorful tunnel underpass at the Maplewood Train Station has long been the hand-painted murals -- many created by local artists over the years -- to promote township merchants and events.
But as of this week, those are disappearing as part of an NJ Transit improvement effort that also includes replacing many of the rusting, leaking pipes that run along the tunnel’s ceiling.
“NJ TRANSIT is conducting maintenance on the tunnel to keep the structure in a state of good repair,” Transit spokesman Jim Smith said in a statement. “This includes maintaining the structure’s resiliency to weather and water seepage by applying a water repellant coat to the tunnel.”
The most noticeable change is painting over the murals, which have promoted the likes of Freeman’s Fish Market, Maplewood Stationers and the three Village pizzerias, among others, for years.
But they have also seen better days as wear and tear has caused much of the paint, and some artistic tiles, to chip and fade away.
Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca said the repairs and repainting is being done by NJ Transit at their expense.
“The underpass has been deteriorating for some time and has destroyed the murals,”DeLuca said via email Wednesday. “The Township has pressured NJ Transit to get the tunnel repaired and finally we are getting action … New light fixtures were installed and workers are busy doing plastering. I was by there today about 11 a.m. and am happy with the work so far.”
But he said the clean white painting that is being put over the colorful murals may not be the last work done on the tunnel walls, hinting that new artistic creations may follow: “We will address the repainting of murals once we get the repairs finished.”