- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Washington Monument will reopen to the public in May after three years of repairs prompted by a 2011 earthquake, National Park Service officials said Thursday.

While an exact date has yet to be finalized, Park Service spokesman Brian Hall said the remaining scaffolding should be down in time for tourist season and is expected to be in line with projections that the work would be completed this spring — despite a season of erratic winter weather, which interrupted repairs periodically.

“It’s like any construction process. If it gets too snowy or rains, it makes it a dangerous situation for the workers,” Mr. Hall said.

Mr. Hall said “deep cold” forced crews to stop work on some days because the mortar has to be installed in a certain temperature range.

Repairs began in late 2012 with scaffolding rising around the monument in March 2013. The scaffolding remained in place until November. The effort was required after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake sent a jolt down the East Coast in August 2011.

The 555-foot monument had a scheduled restoration touch-up in 1998 to repair some joints, and Mr. Hall said it would have been fine for the next 20 to 30 years had it not been for the earthquake.

“The restoration was done completely in reaction to the earthquake,” Mr. Hall said. “After the earthquake, we had to do the initial assessment to bring it back to it’s full glory.”

The damage was mostly external. Some stones and mortar were loosened, and the monument suffered cracks to a portion of the angled part at its top, known as the pyramidion.

Mr. Hall said that assessments of the elevator and stairwells showed the internal parts of the monument were in working order. They only found some cracking and chips flaking off the front face of the stone.

The National Park Service said that the cost of the repairs is at $15 million, half of which was pledged by David M. Rubenstein, a philanthropist.

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