Reporting Derek Valcourt
WASHINGTON (WJZ)— Making the most of a monument under repair. Two years ago, an earthquake damaged the Washington Monument, closing it off to visitors.
Derek Valcourt shows us the new temporary lights intended to make the Washington monument look better.
Park rangers say this scaffolding is going to be here for a while so the new lighting was designed to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
With a flip of the switch, the Washington Monument got a new night time look, thanks to 480 lights hitting a blue scrim specially designed to match the pattern in the landmark’s stonework.
The scaffolding is necessary to repair the cracked stones and loosened mortar from 2011′s 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked ground in the mid-Atlantic and violently shook the 555 foot tall monument with tourists and park rangers still inside.
“It was absolutely terrifying,” said Park Ranger Nicolette Williams. “The fear was so high that I was sure we were under attack. I didn’t realize at first that it was an earthquake.”
It’s been closed to tours ever since. It’s taken five months just to erect the scaffolding and the $15 million repair job won’t be easy or fast.
“Some of these cracks go all the way through the marble so if they are going to inject epoxy they have to make sure they have make sure they have one person on one side and one person on the other so it doesn’t come out and stain the stones,” said Carol Johnson, National Park Service.
Park service officials predict it will be the spring of 2014 before all the work is finished, meaning for now, this is the view tourists are stuck with.
“It looks nice and hopefully we’ll be back,” said one visitor from Minnesota.
Starting Tuesday night, a sensor will automatically light up the monument at dusk.
Congress allocated $7.5 million for the repairs. A philanthropist donated the remaining $7.5 million needed for the project.