Washington Monument could close for over half a year

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WASHINGTON, DC -- The current shutdown of the Washington Monument for elevator repairs is going to last longer than first thought and it will be followed by an even longer shutdown that could last for eight to nine months.

Following a meeting Wednesday with Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, D-D.C., representatives with the National Park Service (NPS) announced the planned ten day cleaning and inspection of the elevator is taking longer than expected.

"We had hoped we might have it open by the end of next week. We think now it will be longer. At the earliest mid-September," said Gay Vietzke, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks.

The Washington Monument has been shutdown 24 times since May 2015 because of problems with the elevator and the NPS said there has been no pattern to the closures. Each shutdown has been for different reasons, which points to the need for a larger solution.

"We're finding ourselves, sort of at the end of the life of this system. We need to modernize the elevator system," said Vietzke.

Vietzke said the last modernization of the Monument's elevator system took place in the late 1990s and was supposed to have been good for between 20-25 years. However, park officials believe because of the high usage of the elevator its lifespan has been shortened.

Part of the work in this current shutdown is determining what needs to be modernized. Following that a plan will have to be drafted and a company will have to be selected to do the work.

"At the point we get to construction, it's probably an eight or nine month period of work actually on the systems," added Vietzke.

What NPS does not know is what the timeline will be for this work, but the hope is that it can be done before the start of the next tourist season.