The DOT Plans for the Saltboxes

First of all, thank you to everyone who participated in this amazing DIY art project. As of April 3, 2021, there are 198 art boxes throughout Baltimore City created by 65 different artists. 

We have been in discussions with Baltimore City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) about what comes next. More details below but you will have two options:

  1. “Adopt” your box. That is, keep your art in place and take responsibility for maintaining the box. 
  2. Remove your art before mid-April (reverting the art box to a regular saltbox status). The city will begin picking up regular, non-art, saltboxes around April 15th. 


First, a bit of background on the city’s normal approach to managing the saltboxes. 

Around November 15th, DOT begins placing saltboxes at key intersections and hilly streets identified as needing to have salt available. DOT then starts picking up the saltboxes around April 15th to repair them and build new boxes in preparation for the next winter season. 

Our little art project has changed the process, and we give full props to DOT Director Steve Sharkey for recognizing that they had something special happening and letting it flourish. 

So this is what is going to happen according to DOT:

Adopt Your Box: Art Boxes Are Staying Put (If You Choose)

In mid-April, DOT will be picking up all non-art boxes as per the normal process. These will be taken, stored, repaired, and prepped for duty in the fall.

Art boxes will remain. This is where you come in. DOT would like the artists to “adopt” the boxes they’ve decorated since they won’t be getting the normal repairs. What this means is a little hazy but will include removing trash from your box, making sure your art improves the box’s appearance and doing your best to keep the box intact. 

If your box requires a level of repair that you can’t do yourself, call 311 to report that a repair is needed. The box and its art will be taken by DOT, repaired, and returned, with your art in place. As this is a city service, this should be used as a final resort. Unless the wood itself has rotted away or pieces have gone missing, do your best to keep the structure intact. 

Remove Your Art: Revert an Art Box to a Plain Old Saltbox

If you do not want to adopt your box, you can always simply deinstall your box and return it to its normal state. This would allow DOT to take the saltbox back to be repaired and relieve you of the duty of maintaining a box. With boxes returning in the fall, you can always relive the magic of decorating a saltbox again.

If you do pull your art, let us know at baltimore.saltbox@gmail.

Art Box (and Normal Saltbox) Mapping Taken Over By DOT

Currently, we’ve been keeping a Google Map of each of the known art box locations with cross streets, date, title, artist, neighborhood, reporter, and photo. It also maps normal box locations throughout the past few years. DOT does not have a map of saltboxes but tracks their locations with a spreadsheet. 

Going forward, DOT will be using its GIS software to map the locations of BOTH art boxes and regular saltboxes. This will be a great public service and available to everyone like other city service maps. Examples can be found here.

This software is very robust and will allow for map features and details that Google Maps cannot support. We will be working with DOT and their GIS team on what information should be captured for the art boxes to ensure the work is properly documented and attributed, and any additional contextual information to help with the understanding of cultural significance. The GIS software will open up great possibilities like easily making walking tour maps and including QR codes on boxes, to name a few things we’re thinking about.

Once the data points for the map entries are defined, we will probably be reaching out to individual artists for help in filling in details. 

We know you probably have questions or ideas. Please reach out to both and And follow @baltimore.saltbox and @thebrokenplate_jules on IG for all things Baltimore Saltbox.

Thank you for making this all possible and bringing the magic!


Juliet Ames & Robert Atkinson


1 thought on “The DOT Plans for the Saltboxes

  1. Wow ! Amazing news. I’m going to think about what to do with my artbox art work and let you know. Definitely want to return next year for a new piece ! So cool. Thanks for starting such a positive project to beautify our city of hope !!!

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