The National Park Service is planning to upgrade the security facility at the Washington Monument to make the area more secure for visitors.
Visitors to the Washington Monument have experienced enhanced security since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but a plywood trailer at the base of the monument will be replaced by a newly designed security center.
The NPS has created four different plans for how pathways could lead visitors to a new underground facility, and the public can comment on the project plans until Jan. 7.
“The function of the underground screening security center is to provide an appropriate center that will allow us to maintain openness but also provide sufficient security so that people can use the monument,” U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser said.
Over the past nine years, numerous proposals have been made to improve the security screening center. Most were rejected because residents wanted to ensure the grass surrounding the base of the monument was preserved.
In an effort to decrease wait times and improve security, plans now involve building an underground facility that would be connected to the monument.
This plan would require digging tunnels and creating pathways to the monument. The current elevator that takes visitors to the top of the monument – which is more than 555 feet tall – would also be positioned underground.
The NPS has to comply with preservation laws in implementing the proposals, but it said safety is the main concern.
No matter what plan is implemented, the U.S. Park Police will “work within those parameters,” Schlosser said.
He added that the U.S. Park Police’s main objective is to “maintain a robust security posture, but also do so within the confines of the law,” Schlosser said.
Beyond upgrading the security, the National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds is asking participants to submit ideas on how to enhance the 60-acre grounds surrounding the Washington Monument.