- The Washington Times - Friday, December 2, 2016

The Washington Monument’s much-maligned and oft-inoperable elevator will be overhauled in the coming years after local philanthropist David Rubenstein pledged millions to fund its repairs.

The elevator, which has long been plagued with issues, was shuttered in August after repeated breakdowns in the previous months. The project will cost $2million to $3 million to correct ongoing mechanical, electrical and computer issues.

“The monument has become a symbol of our country, and reminds everyone of the towering strengths of our first president,” Mr. Rubenstein said in a statement Friday. “I am honored to help make this symbol safely accessible again to all Americans as soon as practicable.”

This isn’t the first time Mr. Rubenstein has dipped into his own pockets to repair the monument. The 555-foot-tall marble obelisk was badly damaged during a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in 2011 with stones from the structure coming loose. Mr. Rubenstein funded half of the $15 million needed to repair the monument after the earthquake.

The fixes include replacing the computer system that controls the elevator and adding a remote diagnostic system, which the National Parks Service says will permit technicians to more quickly determine the cause of problems when they occur.

The money will also go to refurbishing the elevators machine and gear as well as installing audio/visual screens in the elevator cab and installing code compliant landings every 30 feet in the elevator shaft.

“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 National Park Service.

All told, Mr. Rubenstein has donated about $50 million to NPS restorations projects including $18.5 million this year for the Lincoln Memorial and $5.37 million to improve the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial.

The Washington Monument is expected to reopen to visitors in 2019.

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