Reminder: Leadership Columbia holding Lincoln Street tunnel ribbon-cutting, Thursday

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2017 (LC17) will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to unveil “WatermarkedSC,” its Lincoln Street tunnel beautification project. Guests will be welcomed at 3 p.m., with the ceremony beginning at 3:20 p.m. at Lincoln and Lady streets. The event is free and open to the public. Mayor Steve Benjamin and other local dignitaries will speak. The event will kick off the annual Artista Vista arts celebration.

The class spent the past several months working to revitalize the Lincoln Street tunnel in hopes of expediting the completion of the Vista Greenway. The pedestrian-friendly project also serves to memorialize Columbians’ spirit of unity, manifested after the October 2015 1,000-year flood. LC17 added landscaping, signage, street art, lighting and seating to the space, creating a more welcoming atmosphere.

The Lincoln Street tunnel is the first segment of the Vista Greenway, transformed from a 100-year-old railroad tunnel that stretches 400 feet under Lincoln Street. The area is a critical link for pedestrians and cyclists traveling between residential neighborhoods, Finlay Park and the Vista, the city’s shopping and entertainment district.

Working with the City of Columbia and the Vista Guild, the project aims to make the tunnel a place that attracts residents, businesses and tourists.

With help from One Columbia for Arts and History, Columbia artists Michael Dantzler and Keith Tolen were commissioned to create a pair of murals. One features a map of the city and another has a rail car theme. The Leadership Columbia class painted two more murals of its own. Local nonprofit EngenuitySC provided administrative support for WatermarkedSC.