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Washington Monument repairs: Start in 30 days, end in 12-18 months

September 26, 2012|By Danielle Ryan
  • The Washington Monument has been closed to visitors since suffering millions of dollars in damage in the August 2011 earthquake.
The Washington Monument has been closed to visitors since suffering millions… (Alex Brandon / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- Work to repair remaining earthquake damage to the closed Washington Monument will begin within about 30 days and be completed in 12 to 18 months, National Park Service officials said Wednesday.

The Park Service announced that Perini Management Services Inc. of Massachusetts had been chosen to complete the $15-million project. The damage was caused by a magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck the East Coast in August 2011.

“This is a major step toward getting the monument safely opened to the public once again,” said Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

The $9.6-million contract will be funded in part by a congressional appropriation of $7.5 million. That sum was matched by philanthropist David Rubenstein, founder of the Carlyle Group.

“His support has been invaluable in our mission to restore and improve the National Mall, home to the history, heroes and hope of America,” said Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall.

Repairs have already been completed on the monument’s elevator, which was severely damaged by the earthquake. Work yet to be finished includes removal of loose stone fragments, repair of stone and mortar joint damage, and replacement of the lightning protection system.

The western side of the National Mall is built on former marshland, which has caused the 555-foot-tall structure to gradually sink -- albeit at an extremely slow rate.

“We did not find any change in the height of the structure that we could attribute to the earthquake,” said Dave Doyle, chief geodetic surveyor at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It is possible too that the monument is leaning slightly to one side, but Doyle confirmed that there is no current observational data available to make that determination.

The Washington Monument is not the only attraction on the National Mall experiencing nature-related problems.

The National Park Service has also begun trying to remove a thick layer of green algae from the surface of the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, less than a month after reopening the pool following a $34-million renovation project.

Carol Johnson, spokeswoman for the park service, said Wednesday that increased levels of ozone in the water had begun to kill the algae. Johnson said the problem was not a health issue and that water quality was excellent, but the service was “still developing a plan” to fully remove the algae. There are not cost estimates yet.

“We expected there to be a learning curve about what level of ozone to use, although we were not expecting the magnitude of algae we are seeing,” she said.

“We will get it right.”

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nation@latimes.com

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