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National Mall projects receive funding from Obama stimulus package

April 24, 2009 |  4:19 pm


Some of the big names expected to benefit from President Obama's stimulus package include AIG, Ford Motor and Citigroup. Now we can add two more recognizable names to the list: Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

As part of the stimulus plan, the National Park Service recently received $55 million for projects relating to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The money will go directly toward restoration and repair projects on the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial and the D.C. War Memorial.

Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall, told Culture Monster that the stimulus funds were directed toward projects that were shovel-ready, i.e., projects that can begin work almost immediately.

The Lincoln Memorial restoration project will receive $30.5 million for improvements to the landscape and reflecting pool. There will also be measures for enhanced lighting and security.

As much as $18 million will go toward the Jefferson Memorial, specifically to repair the sea wall that protects the area from the Potomac River. In recent years, the apron around the memorial has sunk, sometimes by as much as 7 inches per year, resulting in flooding of the memorial grounds.

The remainder of the funds, or about $7.5 million, will go toward the restoration of the D.C. War Memorial, the 1931 structure that honors Washington, D.C., residents who lost their lives in World War I.

The Department of the Interior was the ultimate arbiter of which projects would receive the stimulus funds, basing its decisions on recommendations from the Park Service.

According to the Trust for the National Mall, there remains about $350 million worth of deferred maintenance waiting for funding.

The Trust is an independent nonprofit organization that is a fundraising partner for the National Park Service for the National Mall.

Earlier this year, Times art critic Christopher Knight wrote a story coinciding with the Obama inauguration in which he argued that the Mall "should be a priority in the rehabilitation of America's crumbling infrastructure, a target of Obama's economic stimulus spending."

— David Ng

Photo: Lincoln Memorial. Credit: Los Angeles Times