D.C. News Briefs

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ford's Theatre Museum To Unveil New Artifacts

The Ford's Theatre Museum is scheduled to reopen to the public Wednesday after 20 months of renovations. The redesigned museum will tell the story of Abraham Lincoln's presidency, from his arrival by train in Washington to his assassination.

New exhibits include re-creations of Lincoln's theater box, his White House office and Mary Surratt's boarding house. The renovated museum will house many historic artifacts, including the derringer that John Wilkes Booth used to shoot the president and the suit and boots that Lincoln wore to Ford's Theatre the evening of April 14, 1865, when was assassinated.

The theater, a National Historic Site, reopened in 1968 as a performance space for live drama. For information or to volunteer, go to

Art Proposals Sought For Metro Station

The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities is seeking artists to design and install artwork in the Takoma Metro station underpass walls at 327 Cedar St. NW. As part of its DC Creates! Public Art Program, the agency is working with WMATA's Art in Transit program to create a more attractive culvert and gateway for residents, commuters and visitors.

The agency has budgeted $250,000 for low-maintenance, long-term installations made of durable materials.

For information, call 202-724-5613 or go to to download an application. Applications are also available at the commission's office, 1371 Harvard St. NW. The submission deadline is 5:30 p.m. Aug. 14.

District Bans Coal Tar In Pavement Sealants

On July 1, the District banned the use and sale of coal tar products used in many pavement sealants. The ban is part of the Comprehensive Stormwater Management Enhancement Amendment Act of 2008, which Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) signed into law in January.

Dust from coal tar products contains toxic polycyclin aromatic hydrocarbons. Rain washes PAHs off pavements into rivers and streams.

The ban will reduce the amount of toxic chemicals that run off into streams and threaten the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Research suggests that total PAH loads washed off parking lots could be reduced by as much as 90 percent if parking lots were unsealed.

"It's rare that we have a chance to knock out this kind of pollution in one fell swoop," said George S. Hawkins, the director of the D.C. Department of the Environment. "Our nation has made substantial progress, but now that we've discovered what's in coal tar and what it does, we have a rare opportunity to protect our waterways relatively easily."

Coal tar alternatives for paving are readily available, the department said. Property owners and contractors should avoid using products with coal, tar, refined coal tar pitch or RT-12 listed as ingredients on the product container or on the material safety data sheet that should be available through distributors.

The penalty for using or selling coal tar products is a fine of up to $2,500 per day.

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