POLITICS

Washington Monument To Reopen In September

The D.C. landmark has been closed for repairs to its elevator.

The Washington Monument is scheduled to reopen on Sept. 19 after a 3-year closure, the National Park Service announced on Friday.

The D.C. landmark was closed for major renovations to its elevator control system, as well as construction on a new security screening facility, NPS said.

Businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein in 2016 donated some $2 to $3 million for the renovations, according to USA Today, which were to include upgrades to the monument’s computer system and the addition of diagnostic technology that could better monitor and repair problems moving forward.

The Washington Monument was closed in 2011 after it sustained extensive damage in a 5.8-magnitude earthquake. The 555-foot obelisk reopened in 2014 following repairs, but closed again in 2016 due to ongoing issues with its elevator.

The landmark, which first opened to the public in 1888, also contains an 898-step staircase that has been closed since the 1970s for safety concerns. 

For the first month after the monument reopens, visitors will be able to obtain same-day tickets on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:30 a.m. Visitors will be able to reserve advance tickets beginning in October.

“The re-opening of the Washington Monument is another example of how the Trump Administration is enhancing visitors’ experiences at national parks and public lands by better meeting critical infrastructure and maintenance needs,” the NPS claimed in its press release.

President Donald Trump has in fact proposed a 2020 budget plan that would cut funding to the National Park Service by 15%. It also allots just $300 million toward $12 billion in deferred maintenance costs.

Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of nonpartisan park advocacy organization National Parks Conservation Association, called Trump’s plan “yet another example of the lack of understanding this administration has about the importance and significance of our national parks and public lands.”

“This onslaught of budget cuts only compounds challenges already facing our parks and public lands,” Pierno said in a statement in March, after the release of the budget proposal. “Yet the administration is determined to increase funding by the billions for a controversial border wall that will block wildlife migration, disrupt water flow and destroy delicate park ecosystems.”

The NPS recently diverted about $2.5 million in funds gathered from parkgoers to help pay for the hefty costs of Trump’s Fourth of July celebration.

The annual celebration typically costs the NPS about $2 million, but the agency was directed to divert park entrance and recreation fees to help cover some of the event’s additional costs this year. Those fees are typically used for critical maintenance and improvements across the country’s 418 national parks.

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