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Scaffolding completed around Washington Monument

Crews to begin repairing exterior earthquake damage

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Crews have finished wrapping the Washington Monument in scaffolding, meaning exterior repairs to the earthquake-damaged landmark can begin.

A video released Wednesday by the National Park Service taken from the dizzying perspective of the monument's topmost point shows a bolted web of metal piping and slats that workers will use to navigate safely along the smooth, stone obelisk.

"The next step is finishing decorative scrim and lighting," Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said, referencing the materials used during the last scaffolding project at the monument that gave the structure an ethereal appearance during repairs.

"Lighting is being installed now. Scrim should start in about a week or so and that takes two to three weeks," Ms. Johnson added. "Then we bring in stone masons to make the actual repairs. Access was the hard part."

The 555-foot monument has been closed since August 2011, when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake jolted the East Coast, shaking loose mortar and small stones and cracking a portion of the angled part at the top of the monument, known as the pyramidion.

Perini Management Services Inc. of Framingham, Mass., is handling the repairs. A subsidiary of the company led the construction of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

Work to fix the monument began the day of the quake, and over the past year has included a seismic study, elevator repair, weatherproofing and, perhaps most famously, the rappelling of a difficult-access team along the sheer face of the monument to assess the damage.

The Park Service put a price tag of $15 million to restore the monument, which is being paid for by a $7.5 million donation from philanthropist David M. Rubenstein and a matching federal grant.

Within that cost is a $9.6 million work contract for repairs, which includes allocations for post-Sept. 11, 2001, security measures. These include metal detectors for workers, bomb-sniffing dogs for building materials, and a 24/7 security detail provided by the U.S. Park Police.

Officials have said the extent of the earthquake damage could have been worse had the monument not been restored in 1998. During that project, the monument was also covered head to toe in scaffolding.

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