Phase 2 of Turf Restoration Work Kicks Off on National Mall

The agency says work is beginning between 7th and 12th streets.

The National Park Service is starting the second phase of a restoration project to allow grass to grow on the National Mall.

Over the next 18 months, crews will work to fix up a section of the Mall between 7th and 12th streets. Grass panels and walkways across the mall will be closed to pedestrians in the area.

In order to get the work done, crews are shutting things down. Fencing is going up, and once they're installed, a long stretch of the National Mall will be closed.

That means some residents, like Steve Turner, won't be able to take short cuts.

Turner usually cuts across the Mall to get to work. "I walk from Air & Space to American History," he said Friday. "So I assume I'll just be able to walk up the street. So it won't be quite as scenic, but I'll be able to get to work."

Visitors, like the Belair family from Connecticut, will also have to deal with the changes.

But looking at the grass, the visiting family said they understand.

"I thought my lawn looked pretty bad, but this is pretty bad," said Mike Belair. "You know, if people stayed on the walkways, you wouldn't have that problem."

The turf restoration involves removing four to five inches of tightly packed dirt, to be replaced by new, better-draining soil that will be more friendly to the new grass.

"It doesn't look very good" right now, said young tourist Trevor Petersen on Friday. "There's, like, bald patches everywhere and it looks very run-over."

Crews will install new irrigation drainage, along with a cistern to reuse storm water. Compaction-resistant soil will be installed similar to athletic fields, and new grass will be planted.

When it's done, this stretch of the mall will look more like the section around the Capitol that's already been restored.

"To make it look better, so that when the next time we come, this is all nice and grass[y] and green, I'm fine with that," said tourist Tom Petersen.

The park service says this will help sustain the mall as visitation is expected to increase from 25 million to 42 million annually in the next 20 years.

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