More Cracks Found in Washington Monument

By Matthew Stabley
|  Thursday, Aug 25, 2011  |  Updated 5:55 PM EDT
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Two of DC's most beloved landmarks are closed after Tuesday's quake. Right now, visitors are banned from the Washington Monument and Washington National Cathedral as structural engineers inspect the damage.

Elaine Reyes

Two of DC's most beloved landmarks are closed after Tuesday's quake. Right now, visitors are banned from the Washington Monument and Washington National Cathedral as structural engineers inspect the damage.

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An inspection of the Washington Monument Wednesday found more cracks in the pyramidion, the top section of structure, according to the National Parks Service.

At least three cracks are large enough to let daylight inside the monument. Debris also fell on the floors and in the stairwell.

A crack 4 feet long and an inch wide was found during a secondary inspection Tuesday evening, so NPS decided to keep it closed indefinitely while damage is assessed. A preliminary inspection of the Washington Monument had found it to be structurally sound, according to the NPS.

After more cracks were found Wednesday, NPS is bringing in two engineering firms with earthquake damage assessment expertise.

A team from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. (WJE) will arrive Thursday to work with NPS structural engineers, historical architects and Tipping Mar Associates to assess the damage.

“We are bringing in WJE because of their experience not only with seismic issues, but with historic structures,” said Robert A. Vogel, Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. “The Washington Monument is one of America’s most important landmarks, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that it is restored completely and correctly.”

NPS is confident the monument will reopen, but it is too early to give an estimate, NPS spokesman Bill Line said. He emphasized customer safety.

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