By Alex DeMetrick

WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Closed by the Mid-Atlantic earthquake last year, a contract to repair the Washington Monument has been signed.

Alex DeMetrick reports work will begin in two months and it won’t be easy or quick.

When the 5.8 earthquake hit, the Washington Monument rocked.  Stone cracked. Mortar fell.  The surveillance video could be summed in one word: scary.

Damage kept visitors out for the past year.

But tours now have a new bit of history to relate.

“This is still the tallest building of its type.  Stone, mortar, gravity, OK?  Pretty impressive.  Also, why they get pretty nervous about earthquakes,” said a tour guide.

“All of which means that it presents some unusual challenges that other structures don’t,” said Bob Vogel, National Mall superintendent.

The repair challenges have been outlined by the National Park Service with the awarding of a $9.6 million contract to fix the quake damage to Perini Management Services Inc. of Framingham, Mass.

Based on engineering surveys outside and inside the monument, the most challenging repairs will be to the pyramid at the top, everything from broken glass to structural supports to stone panels.  The elevator has already been fixed.

Outside is another challenge.  Scaffolding will be the most visible part of the repair job, and it will take five months to install.

“It’s a very difficult portion of the work.  The actual repairs to the monument itself are actually the easiest portion of the project,” said Mike Morelli, project manager.

Set to start in December, it could take up to 18 months to finish.

The National Park Service says it is moving as fast as possible to reopen the monument, which is toured by 800,000 people a year.

The total cost of repairs, including work already completed, is $15 million.


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