It will take a year, but when the work is finished visitors and staff will be safer while journeying to the crown of Lady Liberty at the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
The work, which will cost $27.25 million, will require that the statue be closed to visitors for a year, beginning October 29.
“Two years ago, when we reopened Lady Liberty’s crown to visitors for the first time since the September 11 attacks, I promised that we would continue to upgrade the interior to make it safer and more accessible for all,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in announcing the work. “With (this) announcement, we are taking a major step in bringing a 19th Century icon into the 21st Century.”
The National Park Service awarded the work to Joseph A. Natoli Construction Corporation of Pine Brook, New Jersey, to install code compliant stairways within the monument, update mechanical, electrical and fire suppression systems, replace the elevators, and rehabilitate restrooms. The improvements are expected to allow for increased visitor access to the monument, including the pedestal and the museum.
The Park Service will keep the monument open to the public through the Oct. 28 celebration of the 125th anniversary of the statue’s dedication. It will be closed the following day as work commences; however, Liberty Island will remain open during the project and views of Lady Liberty will remain largely unobstructed during the year-long upgrade to the statue’s interior.
Secretary Salazar re-opened the crown of the Statue of Liberty to visitors on July 4, 2009, after it was closed following the 9/11 attacks for safety and security reasons. For safety considerations, the National Park Service has to limit the number of visitors to the crown to groups of no more than 10 visitors at a time. With approximately three groups ascending the crown per hour, an average of 240 visitors climb to the crown each day.
Park Rangers will remain on site to provide interpretation to Statue of Liberty visitors, most of whom tour only the outdoor grounds of Liberty Island, with only a small percentage securing a reservation for entry into the monument. Approximately 3.5 million people visit every year.
The project is funded through a combination of Park Service appropriations and the park Concession Franchise Fee program.
A gift from France, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924, inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1984 and restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986