Washington Monument May Be Closed Until 2014

Washington Monument May Be Closed Until 2014

The Washington Monument, which has been closed to visitors since the August 23, 2011 5.8 earthquake centered 38 mi northwest of Richmond, Virginia, will require huge scaffolding around it during repairs and may be closed until 2014. The earthquake was the largest to have occurred east of the Rocky Mountains since the 5.8 quake on the New York-Ontario border in 1944, and before that, the quake centered in Giles County in western Virginia in 1897.

600,000 people visit the Monument every year. Engineers said the worst damage is between 475 feet and 530 feet on the structure, but panels are damaged from top to bottom. Thus the scaffolding is vital for proper repair.

The park service estimates the repair will cost $15 million and hopes to award a contract and begin work by September.

The scaffolding that will be built for the repair project will be similar to one used for the refurbishment of the monument’s exterior in 1999 and 2000. Officials hope to use a decorative cover for the metal scaffolding, similar to a covering used 12 years ago that proved popular with the public when it was lit at night. The $15 million will be derived from two sources: Congress, which will fund $7.5 million, and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, who has pledged the other $7.5 million.