WASHINGTON — Closures outside the White House that were put in place months ago for the presidential inauguration are set to be lifted this week, allowing closer access to the Executive Mansion, according to the National Park Service.
The area near the front of the White House, including the sidewalk and sections of Lafayette Square, has been fenced off, obstructing views and keeping members of the public back.
Crews needed the area cleared and secure ahead of the inauguration as they built a presidential reviewing stand, for President Donald Trump and his guests, along with a second stand for members of the media who were covering the inauguration festivities. They had to complete the structures by Jan. 6 before turning them over to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
“All told, the construction and teardown of the presidential reviewing stand and the media platform in Lafayette Park take about four months,” said NPS spokesman Mike Litterst.
According to Litterst, the process of building the stands takes more than two months while taking them down takes about a month and a half.
“These are semi-permanent structures with concrete footing and wired electricity,” he said.
The permit for the closures lasts from Nov. 1 to March 1 — the same dates the permit was issued for the 2013 inauguration, Litterst said.
Workers with D.C.’s Department of General Services, the agency in charge of the project, have a target date of March 1 to get everything back open to the public, unless they have major setbacks due to weather. Crews needed an extension on the project in 2013 after losing 10 days to poor weather conditions.
As the front area of the White House opens up, the Executive Mansion itself also will open its doors as tours are set to resume next week.
In a statement, First Lady Melania Trump said public tours would begin March 7 following a hiatus that occurred during the presidential transition.
“The White House is a remarkable and historic site and we are excited to share its beauty and history,” Trump said. “I am committed to the restoration and preservation of our Nation’s most recognizable landmark.”