I was disappointed to read a recent Defense Media Network post, “A Washington Monument to Failing Resilience”, which incorrectly qualified the effort being made to repair the Washington Monument as having “no real immediate plan for its reopening.” After the Aug. 23, 2011, earthquake the National Park Service immediately took action, working with a top engineering firm to assess the serious damage done to the monument while stabilizing loose stones and protecting the public. Complex renovations required of a free-standing masonry building of such historic significance as most can imagine takes time. The National Park Service has a comprehensive plan and is working to secure and restore the Washington Monument. The monument will reopen when it is safe for the public.
Immediately after the earthquake, the National Park Service began assessing the damage to the 555-foot, 90,000-ton monument. An extensive seismic study conducted for the National Park Service determined that the 5.8-magnitude earthquake resulted in several cracks and spalls within the pyramidion and displaced cornerstone and rib units throughout the capstone of the monument. With over 800,000 tourists ascending the Washington Monument every year, the safety of our visitors is our top priority.
The Trust for the National Mall was fortunate to receive a very generous $7.5 million donation from David Rubenstein, Co‐Founder of The Carlyle Group. His compassionate gift provides the matching funds necessary to begin repair work to the Washington Monument.
The National Park Service is finalizing a contract and expects reconstruction to begin this fall. The Trust for the National Mall recognizes the importance and patriotic values the Washington Monument represents to over 25 million annual visitors to the Mall. Our mission has always been to help restore, revitalize and preserve the National Mall, home to the history, heroes and hope of America.
Caroline Cunningham is president of the Trust for the National Mall.