WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The high point of Washington DC has had kind of a low profile the last few years—but that’s about to change.

Alex DeMetrick reports after being shut down by an earthquake, repairs on the Washington Monument are nearly over.

For a year and a half, scaffolding wrapped the Washington Monument. Now it encloses only the base. It’s the last obvious trace of a rare 5.8 earthquake in 2011.

“As it started, I was terrified,” said park ranger Niki Williams, who was working at the top. “I began to hear noises coming from the elevator, noises I’ve never heard before and I feel the public start to look and me and they’re wondering what’s going on.”

Not knowing herself what was happening, Williams led tourists down the long stairwell to the monument’s base and out to safety. It’s been closed to the public ever since.

The Diaz family from California knows what it takes to repair after a quake.

“That I am, that I am. Earthquake is our middle name out there in California. Shake and bake,” said Rick Diaz.

But having one less warm place to duck into on a frigid day…

“Yes, I am looking forward to it getting fixed. It’s been a while. What’s taking so long?” said Lenaya Smith.

Mostly it was the job of just getting to the damage. The Park Service knew it was going to be hard before the first piece of scaffolding went up.

“It’s very difficult to get to. It’s 550 feet. We’ve got to put scaffolding around the whole thing, scaffold the inside,” Williams said.

And starting now, the last of that scaffolding is coming down. On May 12, the Washington Monument will again open to the public. When it reopens, the Wasington Monument will have extended hours, from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.

“We’re looking forward to coming back sometime when it’s open,” said Ken Emory.

It cost $15 million to repair the Washington Monumemt. Half of that amount came in a single donation.

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