The Capitol rotunda re-opens Thursday with a protective netting, which will be in place for about a year and a half to protect members of Congress, staff, and visitors during the project to restore the building's iconic dome.
The netting consists of five layers, including 14,700 square feet of material (approximately the size of two tennis courts) that weighs a total of 6,100 pounds. It's designed to capture and stop an object weighing up to 500 pounds from falling from the ceiling to the floor below.
The bulk of the scaffolding on the exterior of the dome will be in place at the end of May, Architect for the Capitol Stephen Ayers says.
The deadline for completing all of the phases of the project is inauguration 2017. Nearly 2.5 million visitors come to the Capitol each year.