White House fence steel spikes get greenlight, to be installed in July

Washington (CNN)In early July, steel spikes will be added to the White House fence in an effort to beef up security in the wake of a series of fence jumping security breaches on White House grounds.

The proposal was approved by unanimous vote from the National Capitol Planning Commission on Thursday, giving the US Secret Service the greenlight to move ahead with installation.
The steel spikes will measure 7¼ inches tall, with a half inch steel pencil point at the top, sticking out multiple inches, to create an acute angle and second layer of spikes with the existing iron picket fence tops.
The main purpose is to deter and delay fence climbers according to the proposal from the US Secret Service and the National Parks Service, put before a vote at the National Capitol Planning Commission's monthly commission meeting Thursday.
    "The current fence is a measure that was useful for a bygone era," Tom Dougherty, Chief Strategy officer of the US Secret Service said at the hearing Thursday, "It has been breached many times."
    The installation will take about four weeks to complete and will line the top of the fence along the north and south sides of the White House grounds.
    In developing the design the USSS conducted a series of tests of various modifications and enlisted the help of an architecture and engineering firm, concluding that the spikes were an acceptable short-term solution.
    The measure is only temporary and will treated as an interim measure by USSS, until a more permanent fence solution is created and approved.
    National Parks Service Spokesperson Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles says the goal is to have a permanent solution by the end of the summer and begin construction on a new fence in 2016, aiming for completion by the fall of 2016.
    The need for a temporary and permanent changes to the White House fence comes after a series of embarrassing breaches in security and failures by the US Secret Service to protect the 17-acre White House campus.
    Last September, a man jumped the White House fence and made it to an unlocked door on the grounds. In April another man was arrested after scaling over the fence and getting onto the White House lawn.
    "Regardless of what the solution may be, there needs to be an anti-climb feature" Tobin Tracey, Assistant Director of Design and construction for president's park said at the hearing Thursday, indicating that the steel spikes could indeed be a part of the final fence solution.
    In addition, the National Capital Planning Commission also moved ahead with proposals to replace the temporary security elements around the Ellipse and the President' Park South -- the grassy area between the Ellipse and the White House South Lawn, where many events like the National Tree lighting takes place each December and where D.C. locals use as a park for recreation.
    The equipment in place now had been installed in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, when immediate security was increased. Fourteen years later, the NPS and USSS says much of the existing equipment are "beginning to fail and show signs of wear."
    The changes would be to improve both improve the aesthetics and security - adding a temporary guard booth at 16th Street NW and Constitution Avenue, rearranging guard booths at other checkpoints, and enhancing vehicle checkpoints with newer security barriers.