The Washington Monument likely will remain closed for the next two years or more while repairs to its elevators are completed, the Park Service in charge of the monument said Friday.
Although billionaire David Rubenstein has agreed to fund the project, it currently lacks a start date because the Park Service wants to build a new security screening entrance at the same time and needs funding for that project, The Washington Post reported.
Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said he does not expect the monument to reopen until "cherry blossom season in 2019," according to the Post. The monument closed in August because of ongoing problems with the elevator system.
Rubenstein had already donated $7.5 million toward repairing the landmark after it was damaged in a 2011 earthquake. It was open for about two years after those repairs were completed before the problems with the elevators began.
“As frustrating as it can be, they’re a federal agency,” president of the National Park Foundation Will Shafroth said about the Park Service’s part in the prolonged closure, The Washington Post reported. “We’re talking about one of our national monuments. ... A lot of people have a say in it, and it tends to grind the process a little bit slower than we’d like.”
The National Park Foundation is the agency handling Rubenstein’s donation to the Washington Monument.
When it is open, the 555-foot Washington Monument is entered by about 600,000 visitors every year.
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