WASHINGTON — After the police killing of George Floyd in May, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned a sprawling Black Lives Matter mural to be painted on 16th Street leading up to the White House.
The Federal Highway Administration has guidelines stipulating which signs, if any, can be painted on streets, roads and highways that receive federal dollars, including 16th Street. According to these rules, 16th Street cannot be reopened to traffic as long as the mural remains. Bowser has asked for an exemption, but it appears unlikely the request will be granted.
WUSA9's Bruce Johnson reported Tuesday that the Federal Highway Administration wants the mural removed in order to reopen the street to traffic. A spokesperson from the Federal Highway Administration disputed this report.
“There is no truth to the story that the Federal Highway Administration is asking the City to reopen the street,” Mike Reynard, Director of Public Affairs for the Federal Highway Administration, said. “Additionally the Agency has not received any requests from the city.”
While no official requests have been filed, an anonymous source confirmed that closed-door meetings have taken place between the Bowser administration, the Federal Highway Administration and attorneys representing the Hay Adams Hotel, the AFL-CIO and other businesses that say they’ve been hurt by the closing of the street.
A high-ranking official in Bowser’s office had no response Wednesday when asked if Bowser would be removing the sign. They said they “hope to have the matter resolved” in a month or so.
Lawyers for the businesses surrounding 16th Street at the Black Lives Matter Plaza declined to comment.