D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced the projects Friday and told the public to await lane closings, and 16th Street NW between H and K Streets will be blocked to traffic. Nevertheless, tracks will stay open and local paths to businesses will proceed as usual. The lane closure is in order to install roadway pavers, bollards, and the Black Lives Matter mural.
DDOT added traffic keys will lead drivers and pedestrians safely around the work zone, and construction is expected to conclude by Oct. 1. Once construction finishes, the permanent installation will accommodate vehicles, protect pedestrians, and maintain the original design.
Last year, after the police killing of George Floyd, Bowser renamed a section of 16th Street "Black Lives Matter Plaza."
Construction will occur between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and is expected to conclude by Oct. 1.
Bowser renamed a section of 16th Street "Black Lives Matter Plaza" in June 2020 amid protests that swept the nation in response to the police killing of George Floyd.
An accompanying mural was covered up in May – prompting backlashes from Black Lives Matter DC.
"@MayorBowser’s BLM performance has come to a close and set strike completed," the group wrote in a mocking Twitter post. "We now return to her regularly scheduled performances."
Although many hoped that the square would remain car-free, other visitors say they're fine with the middle ground as long as these words are permanent.
"I think a little bit of both to be fair, like a little bit of both. but as long as there's some barriers in place for safety for pedestrians, I think that'd be a compromise that way," said Tiffani Henry, who visited the plaza.
Many of them were not in agreement with the proposal heard at that time that would incorporate vehicle traffic. Renderings reveal a 14-foot pedestrian walkway sandwiched between a northbound and southbound lane for vehicle traffic on either side.
"In my definition, in my training as an urban designer, that's not really a plaza, that's an auto plaza," said commissioner William Herbig.
“I don’t know why we don’t pause, and call upon the creative community, with a focus on Black artists and talent, to think about creating a world-class public space here in front of the White House that we can celebrate and would endure beyond just a few years,” he said.
"It's not for people, it's for cars," said commissioner Michael Scott McKernan. "What's been created here is an island that's surrounded by a sea of traffic. It's just not a place where people are going to feel comfortable."