Engineers to Rappel Down Washington Monument

Monument remains closed indefinitely as damage, safety assessed

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rigging was secured Tuesday for a rappelling mission to identify earthquake damage to the Washington Monument. (Published Thursday, Mar 29, 2012)

    Engineers will wait a day to start rappelling down the Washington Monument for a visual  inspection, saying lightning in the area made the work too dangerous.

    Dan Lemieux, co-manager of the restoration project for a private engineering firm, said the decision was made at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday to shut down for the day. Engineers will try again Wednesday.

    Raw Video: Engineers Rappel Down Washington Monument

    [DC] Raw Video: Engineers Rappel Down Washington Monument
    As part of ongoing inspections to determine the stability of the Washington Monument in the wake of last month's earthquake, engineers take a look at the very top of the obelisk. (Published Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011)

    Structural engineers climbed out the top of the Washington Monument Tuesday morning to prepare it for an inspection for any external damage that might have been caused by last month's earthquake.

    Engineers plan to eventually rappel down the sides to check for cracks in the marble. They will be equipped with small hammers and lightly tap on the squares to detect damage.

    At a press conference Monday afternoon, National Park Service officials announced that a preliminary inspection had been completed on the monument's interior. The Park Service also released a surveillance video taken during the Aug. 23 earthquake, which showed pieces of stone falling in the obelisk's interior while visitors scrambled for safety.

    The Park Service, citing safety concerns, said that there is no timetable for reopening the landmark to visitors and added that dozens of pieces of stone fell inside the monument during and after the earthquake.

    Engineers told NBC4's Derrick Ward that most of the damage was done to the top of the monument, where several cracks formed. National Park Service spokesman Bill Line told the Associated Press that the cracks will need to be temporarily filled in as part of the monument's annual winterizing process. 

    The 5.8-magnitude earthquake was centered near Mineral, Va., and shook cities up and down the East Coast. In addition to damaging the Washington Monument, the quake also caused significant damage to the Washington National Cathedral.