FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The road between Kentucky's Capitol and the Capitol Annex will soon be shut off to traffic, reflecting a security recommendation from state and federal officials, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.
Security bollards will be installed at the east and west ends of the stretch of Capital Avenue between the statehouse and annex, the governor said. Bollards are typically short posts used to create a protective barrier. The project means the area between the floral clock and Capitol rose garden eventually will be accessible only to pedestrian traffic.
“It has been reviewed as a security concern and as a threat for being far too close to both the Capitol and the annex,” Beshear said at a news conference that focused mostly on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state will seek a “request for quotes” for the project, the governor said. He didn't offer a specific timetable but said: “We ought to expect it to be happening here pretty soon.”
State lawmakers have been briefed and security groups consulted, Beshear said. Legislative offices and committee rooms are housed in the annex. Next year's legislative session opens in early January.
The project stems from a recommendation from Kentucky State Police and federal security officials, Beshear said. The Democratic governor referred to it as a preemptive step to improve security.
“After what we saw on Jan. 6 at our U.S. Capitol, we’ve got to be proactive in making sure that everybody here is safe," Beshear said, referring to the deadly insurrection in Washington, D.C. "And this is one important step to making that happen.”
The project will offer an opportunity to create an “incredible green space” between the Capitol and annex, the governor said. The state can use the space to host functions and people can gather there to “voice their First Amendment rights,” he said.
Parking at the statehouse should generally be unaffected because of other ways to get to the parking garage on the Capitol grounds, the governor said.
“We believe that people will adapt pretty quickly,” he said.
The remainder of Capital Avenue will continue to be open to vehicles.
New fencing was installed around the Governor’s Mansion after protesters gathered outside the mansion and hanged Beshear in effigy in a tree near the Capitol. The demonstration by armed protesters in the spring of 2020 was fueled by coronavirus restrictions at the time.
“At that so-called militia rally, we saw a good reason why it needed to be there,” Beshear said Monday of the new fencing. “And I'll tell you, on behalf of my family, it needed to be.”