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On Time, but Details Are Still Sketchy

There is one constant when officials are discussing the Capitol Visitor Center: The project is on schedule to be at least partially operational in time for the 2005 presidential inauguration.

The completion date is built into the second-phase contract that is set to be awarded in March.

It states that by Jan. 6, 2005, the upper level of the CVC has to be “functionally complete,” including all security screening areas and means of access to the Capitol through the Crypt. The Great Hall, the floor of which is on the lower level, also has to be complete. The next inauguration is set for Jan. 20, 2005.

But there has been little in the way of public disclosure of the milestones that must be attained to reach the targets. CVC project spokesman Tom Fontana said Tuesday that a schedule would be available once the “Sequence Two” contractor has been settled on, as that company will determine the specific targets their crews need to meet in order to wrap up the project on time.

The first sequence contract includes construction of the foundation, excavation of the soil, installation of the load-bearing elements, completion of the roof plate and portions of the site’s utility work.

The second sequence — which includes the mechanical, electrical and plumbing of the interior and exterior — will overlap with the first sequence, as some of the utility work can begin as the outer structure is being completed.

The contractor for the first phase of the project was picked in June 2002. Requests for Sequence One schedule weren’t fulfilled until this week, when a schedule was released detailing activities from October 2001 to summer 2003. There are no target dates on the timeline between this summer and January 2005, a period covering the entire duration of the second sequence.

However, in the request for proposal for the second sequence, some target start dates for work are listed. It stated that work on the East Front extension (near the Memorial Door and EF-100) will begin in February. This is the area that will connect the CVC with the Capitol itself.

The north half of the subterranean structure will be ready for Sequence Two work in February 2004, and the south half of the center is set to be ready for electrical work and finishings a month earlier. The truck tunnel will be ready for Sequence Two construction by late November of this year, according to the RFP.

East Front Plaza finishes are scheduled to begin in March 2004, as is the reinstallation of the historic fountains and lightposts on the Plaza. Landscaping is set to begin around September of that year.

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