The Washington Post, November 22, 2018.
By Tom C. DavisThe Washington PostWASHINGTON — A new study suggests removing an enormous, towering, nearly 100-foot-tall hill from the National Mall could save taxpayers $3.7 billion.
The report, authored by the National Capital Planning Commission and the American Institute of Architects, was released Thursday and says removing the hill would save about $1.8 billion over the next 20 years.
The study looked at the costs of removal of more than 500 miles of concrete over the course of the Mall’s lifecycle.
The Hill, an 8.5-acre structure on the north side of the National Capitol grounds, is the most prominent landmark in the Mall.
The Hill is one of several structures on the Mall that would need to be removed, including the iconic dome at the Capitol Rotunda.
But the Hill’s elevation — at 7,942 feet — would make it an even bigger and more challenging task than other monuments.
The report said the Hill would need a more complex and expensive demolition process than other structures.
In addition, the report estimates that the Hill is only the sixth-largest hill in the United States, and that it is nearly 30 percent larger than the National Park Service’s Monument at Mount Rushmore.
The hill is not a new construction project.
In 2012, the Mall Authority ordered the removal of an 18-foot wall and other structures at the base of the Hill, which was installed in 1997.
The Mall Authority also removed an 18.4-foot concrete structure in 2018.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said in March that it was going to take the hill down after 20 years, but that it would take several more years.
Aerial view of the Capitol Hill on January 7, 2021, as it looked in January 2019, and an aerial view of a proposed demolition of the hill on January 11, 2021.
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)The report estimated that it could cost about $2.7 million to remove the hill and $4.4 million to replace it with a new structure.
It did not detail how much the project would cost, but a recent analysis by the Associated Press estimated that the Mall could cost $8.7 to $10.3 billion.
Aerial views of the Washington Metropolitan area Transit Authority’s Monument of Liberty at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Photos)”We do know that the hill is important, and it has a symbolic value that we don’t just want to take down, but we also want to keep,” said Richard L. Cohen, a senior research fellow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“We also want it to be something that is not only a monument, but is also a public place.”
In the 1990s, the Hill was estimated to be worth $2 billion.
The mall authority spent more than $400 million on the Hill in the early 2000s, including $150 million to buy the land and $140 million for landscaping.
The Washington Metropolitan areas Transit Authority bought the land in 2000 for $10 million.
In 2017, the Metro Authority purchased $4 million of land on the site for $7 million.
“It’s important to note that the Capitol Mall is a unique project in the history of the United State, which is why it is so important that we consider the cost of its removal, as well as the cost to restore it to its former glory,” Cohen said.
The commission also found that removing the Hill from the Mall would save more than 4,500 jobs.
“We estimate that the estimated savings from removal of the monument could be over $1 billion, with a substantial number of these jobs directly related to maintenance, landscaping, and other functions,” the report states.
The report found that the cost for removing the Monument of Independence would be about $20 million.
The Mall Authority is working on a plan to demolish the hill.
It is working with the city and the city council to find the best way to deal with the Hill.