The Washington Monument is scheduled to be reopened in August, after it was closed for the construction of a new screening facility in 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) announced on Monday.
The monument was originally expected to open this spring. However, it was delayed for mitigation of possibly contaminated soil in the construction area.
NPS said in a press release that the soil in question does not pose any threat to public health as it dates back to the 1880s when the monument was built. NPS is dealing with the new issue.
“The potentially contaminated soil is below the ground surface and poses no risk to public health. The soil in question was likely introduced in the 1880s as the monument was being completed. Due to the necessary mitigation efforts, the reopening of the Washington Monument is now expected to take place in August. A specific date will be announced as the work progresses,” the NPS said in the press release.
Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the park service, told The Hill without identifying the substance that the agency “decided to forgo expensive and time-consuming testing because the area aligns with similar contamination patterns already mapped out by the city.” Litterst added that the construction workers will be building an additional metal barrier between the soil and the geothermal wells that will heat the new building.
The monument has remained closed since August 2016 due to construction work both for the new screening facility and modernizing the elevator that takes visitors to the 500 foot observation level.
NPS also informed that the modernization of the monument’s elevator is “substantially complete” and only the final testing and certification of the safety systems remained.