What in the World Got Built Beneath the White House?

First phase of the 'big dig' is over, but West Wing looks the same
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2012 12:40 PM CDT
What in the World Got Built Beneath the White House?
In this Nov. 9, 2011, file photo, construction continues in front of the West Wing at the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

(Newser) – Two years and $86 million later, a major White House construction project is over—but nothing, at least that we can see, appears to have changed, and an aura of mystery surrounds the proceedings, the AP reports. The "Big Dig," officially meant to upgrade aging utilities at the White House, started in September 2010, when a pit in front of the West Wing was excavated. Since then, the AP says it's been "noisy and disruptive," with a construction fence surrounding the area. Observers say the construction seemed much more involved than simply updating utilities—in fact, what they saw was a large structure being assembled underground.

Now that the fence is down, the hole in the ground covered up, the asphalt driveway repaved, and the landscaping fixed up, the West Wing looks exactly the same. The General Services Administration insists that the structure in question simply "facilitated" the work on the utilities, and will say no more. In the past, the GSA specifically denied it was building more office space or an additional bunker, and it has worked hard to keep the proceedings secret. The project is slated to last four years and cost $376 million, which means it's not over yet—more excavation is expected, but the GSA won't say anything about what's coming next. Click for more on the mystery. (Read more GSA stories.)

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