The project that is presently tearing up the White House’s South Lawn initially landed on the former US President Donald Trump’s desk.
Former President of America Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump decided to pass along much-needed upgrades to White House security to current US President Joe Biden because they did not want to deal with construction noise or alter the aesthetic, as reported by CNN.
The White House, the US Secret Service, and the National Park Service worked together to implement new security changes in several phases to not upset the first family. Still, when the final phase was set to start, the Trumps said they did not want to deal with the construction.
CNN reported that Melania Trump specifically did not want the effort to impact the aesthetics of the back lawn, where events could be hosted.
The White House needed considerable upgrades to its future security apparatus, updates that would include digging extensively and deeply, from the upper main driveway to the lower, across acres of pristine green grass.
The US Secret Service told the White House, according to two sources familiar with the proposal who spoke to Cable News Network, that Times had changed since the last substantial systems’ overhaul, and with the nation facing new, known, and unknown security threats from several entities, it was paramount the updates happen.
Numerous workers would be involved, with machinery, temporary gates, and plenty of inconvenient closures and re-routes expected to occur, perhaps for several weeks, maybe longer.
The ultimate step of implementation was for Timothy Harleth, the Donald Trump White House’s chief usher, to elucidate the plan to the US President and first lady, and then indication to the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. National Park Service system was a ‘GO.’
However, the Trumps were not so inclined. One of the familiar people said that they did not want the noise and, Melania in particular, aspired to avoid disrupting the aesthetics on the back lawn, where there could perhaps be events. The first couple decided to ‘pass it to the next guy.’ That next guy ended up being President Biden.
Now the project has been ongoing for several weeks on the White House campus’ south side, one of the largest in scale and scope at the White House in many years.
Now, the needed updates have been going on for weeks and are forcing Joe Biden to take a motorcade for around two minutes every time he wants to get on and off his helicopter, Marine One, because it cannot land right by the White House.
Upgrading the Security
One U.S. Secret Service source with knowledge of altered movements to circumvent the construction said it’d been a headache. The renovations start from the farthest southern juncture of the lawn to the foot of the South entrance of the White House building.
Another source familiar with the subject told CNN that the last time there was a dig this big was during former US President Barack Obama’s term when upgrades were made on the White House’s north side that included similar security measures to the ones happening now.
A Secret Service spokesperson told the media outlet when asked about the work on the South Lawn that to maintain operational security, the United States Secret Service doesn’t remark on the means and approaches used to conduct the agency’s protective operations. The White House told Cable News Network that the South Lawn work is an 8–10-week project. The National Park Service referred media outlet to the Secret Service.
The majority of the existing updates are happening underground, where an extensive route of ducts is being placed, according to CNN obtained contracts. Those ducts can contain miscellaneous safety apparatus, from wiring to lighting to cameras and alternate control sources. The scope of the system holds a swath of White House property from 5000-15000 linear feet or about 1-3 miles. The contract for most of this work was awarded in 2019 to The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company for 17.9 million dollars.
The selection of Whiting-Turner to operate and manage the work suggests that there may be sensitive security requirements being addressed with this duct-building plan and that behind the tall wooden fences that have been temporarily erected to prevent prying eyes, significant technical components are being installed.
Whiting-Turner, a construction management and operations corporation with massive federal work already under its belt, has overseen projects for, among others, the Department of Energy, NASA, the Executive Residence at the White House, the Architect of the Capitol, the Department of Justice, most branches of the military, and many organizations in the national intelligence sphere.
Moreover, Whiting-Turner is proficient in installing uninterrupted power systems (UPS) and emergency power, per its website. Whiting-Turner declined to comment to Cable News Network on its projects, including the White House contract.