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Washington Monument Closed for Elevator Glitch

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Washington Monument was closed to tourists Thursday, as technicians searched for the source of an electrical issue in the elevator. The closure notice was an unwelcome reminder of elevator malfunctions this spring, which raised questions about the monument's renovation.  

"This is the first time we’ve had an issue since those several days of issues following the May reopening,” National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said in a phone interview. Litterst explained that a circuit breaker tripped Wednesday, prompting the Thursday closure to search for the source of the issue. The monument is expected to reopen Friday. After a $15 million restoration to repair 150 cracks in the structure from an April 2011 earthquake, the national landmark reopened to tourists in May, only to be plagued with a number of elevator malfunctions . In one instance, two days after the reopening, tourists were stranded at the top of the monument when the elevator broke down.  

The glitches prompted questions about the restoration, particularly from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.  

“I was reassured that the elevator is operationally safe and that the breakdown was an issue with the door,” Norton said in a statement in May. “Whatever the issue, it needs to be addressed quickly — even if it means a new elevator system.”  

Litterst said he was aware of Norton's concerns during the spring but the current electrical issue was not related to the past malfunctions.  

"We don’t have any reason to believe this is related to the May issues," said Litterst. "We continue to monitor the elevator and provide routine maintenance. So we’re not at this time looking at what happened today as need to replace the entire elevator”  

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