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.
First published May 1 2014, 5:15 AM
Frank Thorp V
Frank Thorp V is a producer and off-air reporter covering Congress for NBC News. He started this role in June 2011. Thorp is responsible for managing coverage of the House of Representatives, and supports Capitol Hill correspondents Kelly Oâ€™Donnell and Luke Russert in their reporting on Congress.
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Previously, Thorp served as NBC Newsâ€™ long-term presence in Haiti after a devastating earthquake hit that country in 2010. Thorp has also worked at CBS News.
He studied psychology at West Virginia University, and lives in Alexandria, Va. with his wife and chocolate lab.