The Washington Monument is not expected to reopen to visitors until 2019 after a string of elevator issues led to its indefinite closure in August, according to the National Park Service (NPS).
Businessman David M. Rubenstein is pledging funding to modernize the Washington Monument elevator, NPS said in a statement released Friday. The $2-3 million project is needed to repair the elevator's ongoing mechanical, electrical and computer issues that have trapped visitors and forced numerous closures of the monument.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton applauded Rubenstein for supporting the renovation of the elevator in a statement.
"The Washington Monument is a symbol of national pride for all Americans and is vital to the District's local tourist economy," Norton said.
The renovation is expected to include a new computer system as well as a remote diagnostic system, which will allow the causes of problems to be determined more quickly. The existing elevator will be refurbished and existing hardware will be replaced.
The trouble for the elevator began roughly after the reopening of the monument in 2014. The monument had undergone almost three years of repairs after the 2011 earthquake cracked and chipped the stone obelisk. During these repairs, the lone elevator within the monument was not renovated.
Shortly after reopening in 2014, a string of elevator issues caused the monument to frequently close and reopen once more. In August, after the elevator broke down several times, trapping visitors at the top of the monument and forcing them to walk down, NPS announced that the monument would be closed indefinitely.
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In addition to modernizing the elevator, NPS requested funding to construct a permanent screening facility for the monument, a project Norton has also pledged her support for.
"The Washington Monument is one of our nation's most iconic structures. It is one of many monuments in Washington, D.C., that is important in telling the story of America's rich and diverse history," said Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the NPS.