Reflecting Pool to undergo planned renovations next fall

The National Mall’s Reflecting Pool will close for up to two years for renovations after the National Capital Planning Commission approved plans April 1 to rehabilitate the area surrounding the Lincoln Memorial.

The dirt pathways surrounding the pool will be replaced with a paved 13-foot perimeter and the pool’s water will come from the Tidal Basin, rather than D.C. city water, according to National Park Service plans. The Reflecting Pool has been the site of dozens of famous moments, including the Million Man March and scenes from the movie Forrest Gump.

Bill Line, an NPS spokesman, said the project will cost $30.5 million, making it one of the bigger endeavors funded by federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

With approval from the NCPC and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts secured, Line said the project is now in the contracting phase. Contractors can submit bids for the project in the coming months. Once the contract is awarded, construction is expected to start in early or mid-October.

The project will install a new water system, similar to that of a swimming pool, so there will no longer be stagnant water in the Reflecting Pool.

Line said the Reflecting Pool was built between 1928 and 1930, and he called the pool “largely a bathtub,” noting that water does not circulate.

Updates to lighting, benches and trash containers are expected to be made on the outer sides of the walks, according to plans. The National Park Service also proposed adding 30-inch high retaining walls and 36-inch tall bollards – short vertical posts – as part of the plans for the area.

Line said the bollards will be rearranged during the renovation, but will stay a security feature. The black posts keep cars from driving onto the closed portion of Lincoln Memorial Circle and through to the monuments.

Two new, handicap-accessible paths were also approved to connect the pool with Lincoln Memorial Circle.

Beyond the Reflecting Pool, the plans call to repave The Elm Walks, which are located by the World War II Memorial and run parallel to the Reflecting Pool, continuing to 17th Street, NW. Permanent lighting will be installed along these pathways, Line said.

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