WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- Repairing the Washington Monument could keep the U.S. capital landmark closed into 2014, the National Park Service said.
A magnitude 5.8 earthquake last summer caused significant damage to the 555-foot spire that will require several months and $15 million to repair.
Bids for the repair project are due July 31 and a contract will be issued next month, officials told The Washington Post.
Early estimates had the monument re-opening next year. The complexity of the job, however, means it will take at least a year. The monument, which has been closed since the quake, sustained damage near its top.
Michael Morelli, the project supervisor, told the Post one of the trickiest aspects of the repairs will be reattaching slabs of stone loosened by the quake and removed as a precaution. The task will require extensive bracing while being reattached.
"Those stone panels weigh about 2,000 pounds," Morelli said. "You'd hate to see even a part of one fall out and start heading toward the ground."