Without fanfare, the National Park Service has reopened public access to the Reflecting Pool that adjoins the Lincoln Memorial.
For nearly two years the old, leaking Reflecting Pool has been torn up, reconstructed, and fenced-off from the public.
On Friday morning, construction and cleanup crews put finishing touches on the $34 million dollar reconstruction project. And, shortly after noon, Scott Stevenson of Corman Construction starting taking down the fencing.
A few minutes later, the public was invited to come down and see the new Reflecting Pool, which, instead of being filled with tap water, is now filled with water taken from the nearby Tidal Basin, then processed to make it cleaner.
There were some logistical problems in the rebuilding the Reflecting Pool. On (what is now) an adjacent field, there used to be buildings occupied by the U.S. Navy.
"All those substructures and drains and inlets and storm drains and electrical duct banks were still in the ground," explained Scott Stevenson, who supervised much of the construction project. "And, when you go to put foundations in, you run into those things that no one knows about."
But, the project is now done, and there are some significant improvements, here. What used to be gravel paths alongside the pool is now paved. This is to make access easier for wheelchair users.
Visitors who got to experience the newly opened Reflecting Pool seemed to appreciate the access. "[I've], actually, never been here before," said Jessica Gordon of Jacksonville, Florida. "So I was excited that they've just cut the chain [fencing] down. It's awesome. Like, wow!"
Although wading is forbidden, a Park Service spokesman says: dipping your feet in from the edge of the Reflecting Pool is OK.