Makeover outside Union Station neglected fountain

WASHINGTON – It was billed as a new front lawn for Union Station.

But even after an $11 million makeover that took a year and a half to complete, the centerpiece of Columbus Circle remains in a state of disrepair.

Last week, leaders from the District and the federal government held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially unveil a host of improvements, including wide brick walkways and improved traffic patterns for cars.

But Columbus Fountain was not included in the project, although organizers wish it had been.

“I think that all of the stakeholders were disappointed that the fountains weren’t going to be a part of (the renovation),” says Nzinga Baker, vice president of the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation. “I think we all recognize that until we have the fountains back in working order, the work is not done.”

The project was a collaboration between the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, Amtrak, the National Park Service, the District Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration.

The fountain, though, is the responsibility of the Park Service.

Spokeswoman Carol Johnson says it has not held water since 2007 because of major structural problems, including a 4-foot-wide void that sits under its base.

In 2010, following an assessment, it was determined the fountain needed $8 million worth of repairs. Johnson says the service has requested funding for the project.

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