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WASHINGTON – After Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of public spaces quickly fell victim to security measures rushed into place in the days and weeks following the attacks. In the nation’s capital, concrete Jersey barriers became a regular feature at most historic sites, including the White House and the Lincoln Memorial.

However, the barriers were just one additional step in a traffic-flow problem at the Lincoln Memorial that dated back to the mid-1970s. With the centennial of Lincoln’s birth in February 2009, followed by a rededication of the memorial in May of that year, the National Park Service (NPS), decided to find a permanent and more-attractive security solution to the site.

200 topClick photo to enlargeIn choosing concrete pavers for the centerpiece of the project, however, the designers didn’t realize they were creating a major construction challenge for Skanska USA Building Inc., the general contractor, and its installing sub, Metro Paving Corp.

Collaborative Effort

Charles Borders, the NPS landscape architect serving as the agency’s project manager, explains that the circular roadway around the site was closed to public traffic before the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, but tour buses and the now-defunct Tourmobile vehicles were allowed to drive in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

“Then, after Sept. 11, the area was closed off completely and the Jersey barriers were placed all the way around the perimeter and in front,” he explains. “When we started on this project, it was all concrete sidewalks and asphalt-paved streets.”

As far back as 2003, the NPS determined that the street would remain closed, but getting to a finished product that would be both aesthetically appropriate to the site and provide permanent security wasn’t easy.

“The designer of record is CH2M HILL of Chantilly, Va.,” Borders says. “They’re the engineering firm we contracted with to develop the construction package, but unlike a lot of building projects, this was more of a collaborative effort. A lot of NPS staff were involved, and we got input from the public and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC).”

He explains that his agency has to answer to the NCPC, which completes an historic compliance review of projects involving public spaces and buildings in Washington.

Approved in 2004, the project included the installation of 2’ X 2’ X 2” concrete pavers for the plaza area, which stretches from the memorial to its reflecting pool. The pavers were specified for their appearance, cost and performance capabilities.