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Atlantic City spending $36K to redo ‘Black Lives Matter’ street mural that left drivers confused

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Atlantic City officials are planning to spend about $36,000 to repave a street and repaint a “Black Lives Matter” mural after the original left drivers discombobulated. 

Initially, the street mural covered both sides of a stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in yellow paint, which covered up the yellow lane markers. 

Overall, the huge amount of yellow paint that was used in the mural confused motorists, leaving them uncertain as to where to drive on the street, city officials said, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

Also, city police cited the mural as making it so difficult for drivers to maneuver that the section had to be sealed off to drivers by placing barriers at both ends. The words of the mural covered up the double yellow median line as well as the broken white lines on the street, reports said.

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small told reporters that the words “Black Lives Matter” will be repainted on the street but in a way that does not obscure driving lanes and instructional markers.

“We tried to work through the issue with the Department of Transportation,” Small said of the original painting, The Press of Atlantic City reported. “The street was too big to make a one-way. It was an oversight on our part, and when we realized it, we fixed it. The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ will still be on the street.”

Reports said that the mural was a compromise between BLM activists and city leaders who did not want the mural to remain on the street.

But it comes with a cost. Last week, city officials announced they voted for a measure to repave the street because the type of paint used for the mural cannot be painted over. 

During a council meeting, however, Acting Police Chief James Sarkos said that the mural actually violates state Department of Transportation regulations, likely because it obscures important markers. 

“Right after the street was painted we had a lot of confusion with vehicles,” Sarkos said. “It was painted the same color as the yellow lines.”

And LaToya Dunston, a member of the city council who rejected the measure, said the city was wasting taxpayer dollars in painting the street without first knowing the regulations, according to news outlet.

“We’re going to remove Black Lives Matter, but we shouldn’t have done it to begin with,” said Dunston, the paper noted ahead of the 5-3 vote. “We’re going to waste taxpayer dollars because we didn’t know the laws.

“We have got to do something better, especially at a time like this when we are dealing with the pandemic crisis. It’s ridiculous,” she added.

The street was initially painted with the lettering in September using volunteers, following a summer of riots and looting that stemmed from, initially at least, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, head of the local NAACP chapter, told members he hoped the street would be reopened by summer because his constituents were sharing concerns about it being closed. He also said he supported moving the mural to a different street.

“We have to get that street open because the summer season is coming,” he said. “Many of my constituents have raised concerns about the street being open.”

Jon Dougherty

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