Paris is to unveil its newly built perimeter defenses around the Eiffel Tower to protect against terror threats. Temporary barriers were placed around the tower in June 2016, and are now being replaced with more permanent measures.
Set to be completed in mid-July, the fences cost nearly €35 million ($40.1m; £30.1m). More than 240 people have died in terror attacks in France since 2015, reports BBC.
Bernard Gaudillère, president of the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) which runs the iconic monument, said the new walls were “rock-solid for absolute security”.
Glass walls measuring 6.5cm (2.5in) thick will form two sides of the square, with the other two blocked off by 3.24m (10.6ft) high metal barriers, exactly one-hundredth the height of the tower. To prevent vehicle attacks, 420 blocks will be placed in front of the glass walls as an added protection.
The forecourt under the Eiffel tower has been closed to the public since June 2016, with anti-terror troops regularly patrolling the site.
Mr Gaudillère said the temporary walls would be replaced with something “infinitely nicer and more romantic”, as part of a €300m renovation of the tower ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Up to seven million tourists are expected to visit the tower in 2018 alone.
Yet residents are not happy about the added security features. A group called Les Amis du Champ de Mars posted a statement online in May last year complaining about the lack of consultation with residents, the “exorbitant cost” of the fences, and the difficulty of access for buses and people with disabilities.
They also allege the city used special measures afforded it by the state of emergency to push through the security changes without assessing their impact or the public interest.
The country introduced tough anti-terror laws in October 2017 after almost two years of the national state of emergency imposed by then-President Francois Hollande in the wake of the Paris attacks.