The earthquake-damaged Washington Monument will soon vanish under massive layers of scaffolding for a $15 million repair project that will last into 2014, the National Park Service has announced.
Video and photos: National Park Service
|A National Park Service video (no audio) captures the quake as seen from the 500-foot level.|
The 555-foot icon—the world’s tallest manmade structure when completed in 1884—sustained major damage Aug. 23, 2011, in the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that was felt for hundreds of miles along the East Coast.
Engineering teams have mapped scores of cracks and displaced stones and mortar throughout the monument, especially near the top. The monument contains more than 36,000 stones, and some of the largest slabs weigh up to 2,000 pounds. The elevator was also damaged.
Repair project supervisor Michael Morelli said the Park Service had completed a highly detailed assessment of the needed repairs: “Where every crack was found, what the damage was, what kind of crack it is.”
“It’s pretty intricate,” he told reporters. “That’s what took us so long.”
Most of the damage is concentrated in the ribbed portion of the structure above the 475-foot level, which will mean extensive exterior and interior scaffolding, the Park Service says. Loose chunks of stonework had to be removed after the quake to prevent debris from falling.
Officials said the pieces were saved, and engineers hope to refasten them into place.
|Exterior and interior photos show some of the damage to the monument. At left, the top of the obelisk bears a one-inch-wide, four-foot-long crack. At right, a block appears dislodged.|
Repairs will include temporarily removing part of the monument’s granite plaza and bracing the huge stone slabs that now rest on cracked supports near the top.
The quake may also have caused the monument to sink two millimeters, according to preliminary findings by the National Geodetic Survey, The Washington Post reported in March.
‘A Pretty Big Project’
The Park Service issued its Request for Proposals on the repair work June 29, and bids are due July 31. Contracts should be awarded in August, with repairs beginning in the fall, Park Service officials say.
|Left: Inside the monument, debris covers the stairs from the observation deck. Right: National Park Service superintendents confer with a civil engineer while inspecting the damage.|
The project is being funded by the government and by a $7.5 million donation from billionaire philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, of Bethesda, MD.
“It’s a pretty big project,” said Bob Vogel, who was named superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks one month before the quake struck.
“Just putting up the scaffolding is a huge undertaking and challenge for us.”