Campus Notebook: Bike Share Comes to Capitol South Area

Posted March 9, 2012 at 4:32pm

More than two years in the making, the Capitol campus will soon have a bike-sharing station to call its own.

Within the next two months, the corner of D Street and New Jersey Avenue Southeast will be outfitted with a Capital Bikeshare kiosk, just steps from the Capitol South Metro Station.

Launched in 2010 and run in part by the District Department of Transportation, Capital Bikeshare has 1,200 bikes in 140 stations across the D.C. metropolitan area. For a fee, anyone can become a member of the program, which allows cyclists to rent a bike and return it to any other kiosk in the city.

An earlier plan to install a kiosk last fall hit some logistical speed bumps, according to Capital Bikeshare Program Manager Chris Holben.

“The southwest corner there, right now, is grassy and uneven,” Holben explained to Roll Call. “We needed to flatten it out and create a level pad [for the station] to rest on.”

Two Democratic Congressmen from Virginia — Reps. Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran — have been leading advocates for installing a station closer to the Capitol. In October, they sent a letter to the House Administration Committee, which oversees campus operations, seeking permission for Capital Bikeshare to build.

“Placement of a bicycle sharing station close to, and in plain view of, the [Capitol South] Metro station makes it far more likely that staff and tourists will utilize bike sharing,” the lawmakers wrote at the time.

They added that such a station would reduce traffic congestion and reliance on cars and provide “an effective and exceptionally low-cost way for House visitors to move around the Capitol complex.”

House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) replied to confirm that his staff, the Architect of the Capitol, Capitol Police and Capital Bikeshare had been working for months to find an arrangement that would not impede “pedestrian access, Bikeshare truck access and Capitol complex security.”

In addition to the new location, Lungren wrote in October that another station could soon be placed at the corner of Third Street and Independence Avenue Southeast. Holben said that station could be installed sometime this summer.

Statue of Freedom Set for Touch-Up

The Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome will get its first washing in nearly five years this spring.

Capitol Dome tours will be suspended from April 2 and May 13, during which time the Architect of the Capitol will perform much-needed maintenance on the bronze statue and its cast-iron pedestal.

This news was communicated last week to the Capitol Hill community in an internal email, obtained by Roll Call, from Capitol building and Capitol Visitor Center Superintendent Carlos Elias.

According to Elias, “the AOC’s Curator has issued a conservation contract to wash the statue [and] inspect and document its condition inside and out.”

The process will include removing and replacing existing lightning safety systems, replacing caulk or epoxy fills as needed and inspecting the structure for leaks.

The AOC’s construction division will be employed, Elias wrote, to “perform inspection and repairs” to the statue’s pedestal that was last restored in 1993 and inspected in 2007.

AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki told Roll Call that all work on the Statue of Freedom is scheduled to be completed by mid-May. Though the statue typically receives maintenance every four years, this touch-up was scheduled to coincide with the larger restoration project of the Capitol Dome skirt that has been ongoing since October of last year, she said.

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