Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the Statue of Liberty, which sustained substantial damage from Hurricane Sandy last October, will reopen to visitors by this July 4.
“Hurricane Sandy inflicted major damage on facilities that support the Statue of Liberty – destroying the docks, crippling the energy infrastructure on Ellis Island and wiping out the security screening system – but we are fully committed to reopening this crown jewel as soon as it's safe for visitors and not a second later,” Secretary Salazar said Tuesday afternoon. “Based on the tremendous progress we have made, Lady Liberty will be open to the public in time for the July 4th celebration.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, joined the Interior secretary in making the announcement and called "July Fourth ... the perfect day to reopen a symbol of our nation's freedom..."
"Lady Liberty was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, but just like New York, she will be back – and stronger than ever," the senator added. "Being open for the summer tourism season isn't just important symbolically, it's a boon to the city's economy and businesses, as the statue attracts millions of tourists from all over the world to our shores. I thank Secretary Salazar for his extraordinary work – he was uncommonly focused on getting this job done, and the people of New York appreciate it."
The Interior secretary emphasized the importance to New York's economy of reopening the Statue of Liberty. An annual report released last month by the National Park Service showed that 3.7 million people visited the park in 2011, generating $174 million in economic activity and supporting 2,218 jobs.
Repairs to the docks needed to transport visitors to Liberty Island are being funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Lands Highways Program, as part of $28 million committed to roads and bridges in federal parks and recreation areas in New York and New Jersey damaged by Hurricane Sandy.