Work on the national World War II Memorial is set to begin after a federal judge denied a request today for a temporary restraining order to halt the signing of construction contracts for the controversial monument.
U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy ruled against The National Coalition to Save Our Mall, a group that opposes the memorial's design and filed the original lawsuit against its imminent construction last October.
In its request for a restraining order, the coalition charged that Congress and President Bush had overstepped their bounds by passing legislation, which Bush signed Memorial Day, designed to circumvent further lawsuits and delays.
While Judge Kennedy did not make a "definitive ruling" on the law, his ruling means that the judicial, legislative and executive branches of the government have supported the memorial's construction.
Work on the project is proceeding, with construction set to start this summer, and be done in 2004.
Construction Companies Chosen, More Challenges Ahead
This morning, the American Battle Monuments Commission awarded a $56 million contract for the construction to Tompkins Builders and Grunley-Walsh Construction, two Washington-area companies. The two companies have participated in projects as recent as last year's restoration of the Washington Monument and as historic as the completion of the reflecting pool in 1922.
Controversy has swirled around those sites, where supporters hope the 7.4-acre memorial will soon be built between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument on the Washington Mall.
Opponents of the site emphasize that while they support a memorial to World War II veterans, they do not support one on this site. The design, by architect Friedrich St. Florian, was decried today by The New York Times as "a monument to the military entertainment industry."
The design features a freedom wall, linked columns and a central pool, and two arches that signify victory in Europe and Asia, all of which opponents argued would block the unobstructed view of the Mall.
Supporters counter that modifications have corrected that problem. The design is supported by the American Legion. The $160 million needed to construct the memorial was raised in a campaign lead by former Sen. Bob Dole and actor Tom Hanks.
The National Coalition to Save Our Mall and World War II Veterans to Save the Mall vowed today to keep fighting.