Police to Close Streets, Restrict Access for Bush’s Address

Posted January 16, 2004 at 5:52pm

To secure the Congressional campus for tonight’s State of the Union address, the Capitol Police will institute a variety of protective measures, including street closures.

“As you know, security measures necessitated by this event will have a large impact on access in and around the United States Capitol,” House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter issued last week. “However, every effort has been made in planning to minimize inconvenience to Members, family and guests, and staff attending the State of the Union address.”

The area surrounding the Capitol and House and Senate office buildings will be closed to vehicles at 7:30 p.m.

The closures will affect the area bounded roughly by Louisiana and Massachusetts avenues on the north to D Street south, and between Third Street west to Second Street east.

Limited access to the Capitol grounds will be available at four locations: Independence Avenue and Second Street Southeast, New Jersey Avenue and D Street Southeast, Washington and Independence avenues Southwest, and Washington Avenue and C Street Southwest. The Sergeant-at-Arms has asked Members to park at the House and Senate office buildings or along New Jersey Avenue.

The Capitol’s House wing will also be closed to visitors at 5:30 p.m., or earlier depending on the House schedule.

“Only Members and their families, staff members with a ticket for the event, or staff with an office in the Capitol, will be allowed into this area,” Livingood wrote.

Public tours of the Capitol, which are conducted from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, will not be affected by security procedures.

Additionally, access to the Capitol will be limited to members of the media who possess valid House- or Senate-issued press credentials. Media professionals without credentials may still enter the House and Senate office buildings. As of Friday afternoon, the Metropolitan Police Department had not determined whether it will activate its network of 14 closed-circuit cameras, which it used during President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address. An MPD spokesman said the department had not received a request from the Capitol Police for assistance during the event.

The cameras are mounted on various buildings and focus on public spaces around the National Mall, the Capitol, the White House and Union Station.

Live Feeds to Be Restored in Time For Post-State of the Union Interviews

Crews planned to work feverishly over the weekend to restore live-feed capability to Statuary Hall and the House floor in time for tonight’s State of the Union address. The lines were cut in early December to accommodate construction of the Capitol Visitor Center.

“We do expect full Statuary Hall connectivity. We do expect full floor feed and gallery studio capability by Tuesday,” said Tom Seem, chairman of the technology subcommittee for the radio and TV galleries.

The lines, when operational, allowed the networks to send live feeds back to their studios from the House and Senate floors, Statuary Hall, the Rotunda and other interview locations. Live floor feeds via an alternate route were made available to the networks until the lines were reconnected, which was expected to be in early to mid-January. But there were “a number of delays, primarily related to CVC construction issues,” Seem said, preventing the full feeds from being restored as previously scheduled.

That led to concern among some Members last week that the TV stations wouldn’t be able to broadcast the customary post-speech interviews live from Statuary Hall. Seem said those lines, as well as the capability to get independent live feeds from the floor, would be restored over the weekend.

“It looks like we have taken care of all of the hurdles,” CVC spokesman Tom Fontana said Friday. “We have crews right now working 24 hours a day. Our goal is to have everything taken care of by Sunday so it can be checked and rechecked.”

Fontana added that second and third backup plans have also been put in place, and a team of technicians will be standing by tonight.

— Suzanne Nelson