In case you were thinking of taking an excursion to the Washington Monument this summer, you might want to reschedule for some time in 2014.
After an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 last August, the Washington Monument was damaged significantly enough that repairs may take from 12 to 18 months to complete, says TIME. This will leave the monument closed until as late as 2014, up to three years after the damage had taken place.
TIME reports that the Washington Monument was left standing after the earthquake; however, there was a lot of superficial damage done, leaving cracked and shifted marble panels from top to bottom that could fall on tourists below.
The majority of the damage was done between 475 feet and 530 feet high up on the monument, according to the Associated Press. By scaling and inspecting the monument last September, engineers have decided that scaffolding will be required to allow workers access to the damaged areas.
“It is difficult to get to, and it's difficult to repair,” says Carol Johnson, the park service spokeswoman, according to the Associated Press. "Panels stressed during the earthquake will have to have anchors installed."
$7.5 million was set aside by congress to complete the repairs, and businessman David Rubenstein matched the $7.5 million to help ensure the work is completed. Park services started offering this $15 million project for bidding to contractors on June 29.
According to AP, Robert Vogel, the superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, stated that “We're pretty much on track and trying to keep it moving as fast as it can. We obviously will have some greater clarity on the time frame as soon as the contract is actually awarded in September.”
Once the repairs are underway, park officials hope to make the scaffolding more aesthetically pleasing with some sort of decorative covering. Also, until the construction is done, officials are considering installing a webcam at the top of the monument to help keep the public updated on the progress of the repairs.
TIME says that with the annual 700,000 visitors to the Washington Monument being diverted, traffic is expected to increase around the surrounding monuments while repairs are taking place.