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Court’s Perimeter Security Upgrade to Begin in May

The Architect of the Capitol is set to begin construction next month on long-planned perimeter security improvements around the Supreme Court, officials announced this week.

The project, funded in part by a $10 million appropriation included in the 2002 supplemental spending bill, will focus primarily on the installation of steel bollards around the court’s grounds, similar to the extensive network of barriers that ring the Capitol campus.

Although initial plans submitted to the Capitol Police Board in 2002 called for closure of the section of Second Street Northeast that runs directly behind the court and a portion of Maryland Avenue Northeast during heightened security alerts and “peak hours of building use,” those proposals have since been dropped.

“The court revised its plans in response to concerns raised by the Capitol Police Board and the community,” said Kathy Arberg, public information officer for the court.

Instead, the Architect’s office will install in-ground pop-up barriers, similar to those found elsewhere on the Capitol grounds.

The new barriers will be placed in three Northeast locations: Second Street south of Constitution Avenue; Second Street north of East Capitol Street; and A Street east of Second Street.

“These barriers would only be used in an emergency, based upon specific threats to security, or during national security events,” according to a statement issued by the Supreme Court Public Information Office on Monday. Events that might trigger use of the barriers, Arberg added, would include large-scale affairs such as the State of the Union address.

The plans do include some traffic-pattern changes, however, converting A Street Northeast between Second and Third streets to a one-way eastbound road. The court’s statement notes that the change has the approval of both the D.C. Department of Transportation and the Capitol Police.

Construction work will begin in May along the court’s southern boundary on East Capitol Street, which is currently closed to accommodate construction of the Capitol Visitor Center, and along Second Street.

Work along A Street is scheduled for completion in the coming months.

In the fall, the AOC is scheduled to begin work along both First Street and Maryland Avenue.

Bollards will be installed along the First Street sidewalk to form an arc in front of the court’s plaza, while work along Maryland Avenue calls for a 13-foot extension of the curbside into the existing street area.

Parking along the north side of Maryland Avenue will not be affected, according to the court’s statement; however, parking along the street’s south side will be available to neighborhood residents only in the evening.

Additionally, the traffic pattern along Maryland Avenue will be changed to eastbound only.

Construction of the security measures, estimated to cost $13 million, is slated for completion by 2008, in conjunction with the conclusion of the court’s $122 million modernization project.

Although the Supreme Court falls under the jurisdiction of the judicial branch, the Architect’s office is responsible for the structural and mechanical care of its building and grounds.

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