Construction to begin this summer on taller White House fence

Construction to begin this summer on taller White House fence

Work is expected to begin this summer to replace fencing outside the perimeter of the White House with a taller barrier in an effort to improve security.

The roughly 3,500-foot fence that surrounds the White House grounds currently stands at about eight feet high. The new structure will measure at more than 13 feet high.

Proposals submitted to the National Capital Planning Commission show that the new fence will have a stone base that is 18 inches tall, and fence slats that are nearly 11 feet high with a one foot "anti-climb" feature perched on top.

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The commission said in a project summary that it approved temporary upgrades to the fencing in 2015. The National Park Service and U.S. Secret Service, which are responsible for the construction of the new fence, have evaluated a number of permanent measures in the time since.

"The improvements intend to balance security needs with the visual quality of this nationally-significant public space," the commission wrote.

Thomas Luebke, secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, told The Hill that his panel signed off on final minor alterations involving the materials and design of the upgraded fencing late last year.

He said the panel had to weigh how the fence, which will be nearly twice as tall once completed, might require different design elements to remain aesthetically pleasing.

"It’s hard to find a more significant historic property in the city," Luebke said. "This is going to be a big change in terms of what it looks like from the outside, so we wanted to take it very, very seriously and carefully."

A spokeswoman for U.S Secret Service said in a statement that the first phase of upgrades focuses on the fence around the White House, while a second round of improvements will address the fence around the Treasury building and Eisenhower Executive Office Building. 

 “The fence is designed with state of the art security features, however we will not discuss the specifics of the security measures,” the spokeswoman said.

The construction of the new fence was first reported by The Washington Post. The news outlet reported that the six vehicular and nine pedestrian gates surrounding the White House will also be replaced as part of broader improvements. 

Construction is expected to continue into 2021, the Post reported.

The upgrades will aim to deter trespassers, who have attempted to scale the fence in recent years.

A woman was arrested in January after she tried to jump a barrier along Pennsylvania Avenue.

In March 2017, a man climbed the White House fence and spent over 15 minutes on the White House lawn before being apprehended.