Austin’s Roosevelt Bridge transformed by community mural

Published 6:03 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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The underside of the Roosevelt Bridge in Austin has received a vibrant makeover, covering former vandalism with a colorful mural led by local educator D. Chris Oftelie.

The project, intended to replace spray-painted tags and obscenities, was organized by the Austin Culture & Arts Commission and supported by contributions from the Cedar River Watershed District and Mower County.

Oftelie, a teacher at Lyle Public Schools, spearheaded the initiative involving his students.

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“The kids had a great time creating the mural. As we were working, people walking by had only good things to say,” Oftelie said.

The mural project not only beautified a previously marred urban space but also engaged local youth in arts and community service.

Geoff Smith, a member of the commission, praised Oftelie’s leadership and extended an invitation to other artists.

“Chris does a terrific job leading the kids to be creative and have fun,” Smith said. “Artists or groups that want to make murals or art in place of this kind of ugly stuff can reach out to me at and I can help make that happen. We have so many great partners that are eager to see these kinds of projects continue.”