City of Merced logoAt a recent meeting, the Merced City Council unanimously approved acceptance of $850,000 in grant funding to support the installation of gateway monuments on various state routes and $350,000 in grant funding to support the installation of murals on various state highway structures in the City of Merced.

“This project, funded by Governor Gavin Newsom’s landmark $1.2 billion Clean California initiative, will afford the City of Merced resources to construct and install six welcome monuments and eight large-scale murals reflective of the City’s rich and diverse cultures,” stated Mayor Matthew Serratto.

“Like billboards, the murals will represent impressionable images that will humanize and transform otherwise underappreciated and unnoticed areas. Additionally, these murals and gateway monuments will enhance unity in our community by linking culturally significant artwork from Downtown Merced to existing South Merced murals,” concluded Serratto.

Fifteen artists responded to the Clean California Mural Project through the City’s Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Proposals were reviewed by the Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission (ACAC), which serves as an advisory body to the City Council on matters having to do with public art, art projects, cultural programs and activities, and the promotion of the arts within the City of Merced. 

An appointed commissioner subcommittee ranked designs based on criteria listed in the RFP. Eight artists’ designs were then submitted for approval by the City Council. To conclude the process, designs were reviewed and approved by the Caltrans Landscape Review Committee.

“Whether folks are passing through Merced and the San Joaquin Valley on their way to Yosemite or coming to this great city to live, work, study or visit friends and family, this Clean California gateway project will be a highlight of their journeys in the near future,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “I commend everyone concerned – particularly the local artists whose works will be featured – for their effort in making this idea a reality.”

Project work will commence mid-December and is scheduled to conclude four months from the start date. Visit to view artist biographies, design inspirations, and progress on their respective designs. 

This project is among 126 Clean California beautification projects worth $312 million designed to help energize communities and create connectivity along the state highway system. There are an additional 105 projects statewide funded by nearly $300 million in Clean California local grants to remove litter and transform public spaces in underserved communities. Collectively, these projects are expected to generate 7,200 jobs. The new state budget includes $100 million to fund another round of Clean California local grant projects.

Since launching Clean California in July 2021, Caltrans has removed more than 1.1 million cubic yards of litter from state highways – the equivalent of more than 19,000 tons or enough to fill 348 Olympic-size swimming pools – and hired more than 800 new team members as part of Clean California, including 420 maintenance workers who collect litter and remove graffiti. For more information, visit