Washington Monument May Remain Closed Through 2014
The damage to the Washington Monument caused by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the D.C. area in August 2011 is still not fully repaired. The monument has been closed to the public since the earthquake. Initially, it was thought that the repairs would be completed by 2013. Damage is more severe than originally thought, said the National Park Service which oversees the monument which honors founding father and the first U.S. president, George Washington. The repairs may take until 2014 to be complete. "The Washington Monument will remain closed to the public during repairs," the NPS added.
During the earthquake the monument was cracked and pieces of the structure were loosened, especially near the top. The loose chunks of marble and granite were removed after the earthquake to prevent the material from falling. The removed pieces were saved and engineers will the pieces back into the monument. Some loose chunks of the material was taken out after the earthquake to prevent it from falling. The removed pieces were saved and engineers will put the pieces back into the monument. No stones need to be replaced, but about 50 patches will be added, according to the NPS.
This project is estimated to cost $15 million. The scaffolding will help brace stone slabs that are currently resting on cracked supports near the top of the monument. It will also allow for the temporary removal of part of the plaza surrounding the plaza. Scaffolding will be located in both the interior and exterior of the monument to make the repairs easier. The plaza pieces that are removed will be saved and put back into place after the repairs are complete. Other renovations will also be in place. Metal brackets will be added to help better fasten some slabs near the top of the monument to make them more secure in case of another earthquake. Repairs are scheduled to begin this fall.
Most Washingtonians will agree that the Washington Monument is a must-see while in D.C. Although the monument’s closure has been a disappointment to many tourists, visits along the National Mall have not declined.
Construction of the 555-foot obelisk was completed in 1884. At that time, the monument claimed the title of world's tallest structure until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was erected.