Ticket Reservations for Washington Monument Begin Wednesday

The National Park Service began accepting ticket reservations to visit the Washington Monument Wednesday.

The monument will reopen May 12, nearly three years after an earthquake rocked the region.

Tours for opening day will begin at 1 p.m., with tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Washington Monument Lodge (15th Street between Madison and Jefferson drives).

But you now have the chance to snap up tour tickets for May 13 and beyond. Those tickets became available online at the NPS reservation page, www.recreation.gov, at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

"I would imagine there's a lot of people who are eager to get in," said Carol Johnson of the NPS.

The monument will offer extended hours, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, through the end of summer.

When the monument reopens, it will have been 32 months since tourists at the top of the 555-foot obelisk were captured on surveillance video running for the stairs as an earthquake shook the observation room — and the rest of D.C. — on Aug. 23, 2011.

The monument was closed after many stones near the top were discovered chipped or cracked, and mortar was shaken loose during the 5.8-magnitude quake.

Crews determined the monument was structurally sound, but workers have spent the time since then chiseling, hammering and repointing, In the process, they repaired more than 150 cracks.

"It's just as good as new, and it's going to be there for generations to come," Johnson said.

The massive repair project cost an estimated $15 million. Washington businessman David Rubenstein pledged to pay half the amount, with Congress allocating the rest.

Normally the Washington Monument has about 700,000 visitors a year who ride an elevator or climb stairs to the top. The monument was completed in 1884 and was the world's tallest structure for five years until the Eiffel Tower was built.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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