Paging Rep. Bennie Thompson.
As the country debated the rightful place for the Confederate Battle Flag a few months ago, the Mississippi Democrat caused a stir when he introduced a resolution to remove his state’s flag from the House side of the Capitol , which, if successful, would have left a hole where the state flag hangs in the Rayburn subway tunnel.
And, lo and behold, the flag no longer hangs in the tunnel between Rayburn and the Capitol — but neither do any of the other state emblems. All of the state flags and seals have been removed from the tunnel as part of a project to overhaul utilities and install new “safety systems” in the tunnel, including a fire alarm and sprinkler systems.
A spokesperson for the Architect of the Capitol said work will continue on the tunnel through September 2016. But major work will happen in October to demolish the old ceiling, causing the tunnel to be closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. until Oct. 26.
In addition to the new safety systems, the revamped tunnel will also have energy efficient lighting. A sign outside the tunnel also notes that during recess periods, only one subway car will run to and from Rayburn. The spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry about when the state symbols will once again line the tunnel.