THE BRONX - Once dull concrete steps between Kingsbridge Terrace and Armand Place are now brighter thanks to a mural.

For the past year, young people from the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center helped paint the steps under the direction of artist Laura Alvarez. "I'm really proud," says Alvarez. "The kids did an amazing job because it was really hard."

The concrete proved difficult to paint, taking between 60 and 70 gallons of paint to complete the project. Now trees, one depicted on a winter night and the other during a spring day, grace either side of the steps.

"At first, it looked like we weren't going to finish it," says Duylan Cooper, who worked on the project. "But in the end, it looks really nice."

The project included planning, designing and securing Department of Transportation funds.

While many are pleased with the project and the removal of graffiti, some locals say the stairs still need some structural work.

The DOT says it made some repairs before the art project, adding that aging infrastructure can be difficult to maintain.