Washington Monument to Reopen in May

No exact date has been set, NPS says.

The Washington Monument will soon be clear of the scaffolding that's covered it for months, reopening for tourists just in time for summer.

The monument will reopen in May, but no exact date has been set, Brian Hall with the National Park Service said.

The site was closed after many stones near the top of the monument were chipped or cracked, and mortar was shaken loose during the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Aug. 23, 2011.

For months, workers have been removing scaffolding from the 555-foot monument. Hall said crews stopped the removal at 120-feet so mortar joints in the lower 20 to 30 feet of the monument could be repointed. Once that work is completed, the scaffolding will take about two weeks to take down.

The massive repair project is expected to cost $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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