Steel barbed-wire fences and roadblocks around the US Capitol complex have finally been removed more than two months after the deadly riots – but an inner layer of barricades will still remain around the building for now.
The imposing 2-meter fence that has cut off the entire area for pedestrians and traffic since the January 6 riots has now been severely scaled down.
Photos taken this week show how drastically the area has changed since the fencing was put in place and tens of thousands of National Guardsmen were brought in to patrol the area.
Pedestrians can now access the area and vehicles can now drive on roads that have been closed for two months.
Capitol police confirmed on Wednesday that the perimeter fence of the complex has been torn down and local streets in the area have been reopened.
The imposing 2-meter fence around the US Capitol complex that has cut off the entire area for pedestrians and traffic since the January 6 riots has now been severely scaled back. An outer perimeter around the Capitol has now been removed, allowing pedestrians to get closer to the building
The inner perimeter of the fence, which is located directly around the Capitol, will remain as authorities and lawmakers continue to work out a long-term security plan.
Strings of barbed wire on top of the remaining fence have now also been removed.
As part of the cutback, Independence and Constitution roads, the two main thoroughfares flanking the Capitol, have been reopened to traffic for the first time in months.
The fence had cost about $ 1.2 million a week to stay in place.
Capitol Police said they were ready to “ ramp up security in the blink of an eye ” if needed.
The political pressure to remove the security fence has been increasing for several weeks.
Lawmakers from both parties have labeled the fencing as unsightly, expensive, and beyond what is necessary.
Members of Congress have described their unease when they arrive every day for work in what may feel like a war zone, with checkpoints and National Guard troops lining the fence.
Steel fences and National Guard along the outer edge of the Capitol complex are now longer in place, but several roadblocks, which were already in place, are still there. Pedestrians can now access the area for the first time in months
Security fences placed on either side of the inauguration around the National Wall and Washington Monument in the days have now also been removed
Constitution Avenue (pictured above), the main thoroughfare that flanks the Capitol, has now reopened. Roadblocks and barbed wire fences that had lined the perimeter have now been demolished
Road blocks along this stretch outside the Capitol complex have now been removed, but an inner perimeter around the building remains in place
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell had compared it to a combat zone in Afghanistan, saying, “We are overreacting.” The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, had called it “ghastly.”
Republican Congressman Lauren Boebert repeatedly criticized security, calling it ‘Fort Pelosi’.
The heightened security measures had been in effect since the January 6 riots when crowds of MAGA supporters stormed the Capitol in a failed attempt to reverse Biden’s election victory.
Five people died after the rioters, many who have since been charged, stormed the building.
In the wake of the riots and the days either side of Biden’s inauguration, as many as 20,000 National Guardsmen were deployed to patrol the Washington DC fence.
At least 5,000 National Guard troops remained in DC for the following weeks, and Capitol Police last week asked to extend the deployment of nearly 2,300 troops for an additional two months.
The National Guard on duty in the Capitol has cost more than $ 500 million since the riots.
Business owners and residents in the immediate vicinity of the Capitol hailed the decision to remove the fences.
Some restaurants within the perimeter have been unable to open since being blocked on January 6.
Capitol Police confirmed on Wednesday that the perimeter fence of the complex has been torn down and local streets in the area have been reopened
Strings of barbed wire on top of the remaining fence have now also been removed. The inner perimeter of the fence, which is located directly around the Capitol, will remain as authorities and legislators continue to try and have a long-term security plan