The detailed inspection of the exterior stones at the Washington Monument has begun. The 555-foot-tall structure was damaged in August’s earthquake, and has been closed to the public since that day.
One expert climber Wednesday morning checked the anchor lines that had been draped over the top of the monument on Tuesday. Around noontime, engineers and architects secured to those anchor lines began the stone-by-stone inspection of the structure.
One of the inspectors climbed out of a hatch near the very top of the monument, and began tapping stones with a “soft mallet.”
The observation windows on all four sides of the monument have been removed. The remaining three inspectors are climbing out of those windows, and then ascending to the top to begin their surveys on each of the four sides of the pyramid-top of the building.
The inspectors, all expert climbers, are either civil engineers or architects. They are carrying cameras and tablet computers with photos of each stone taken during a 1999 rehabilitation of the structure.
The early-day inspections lasted about three hours. After a lengthy mid-day break, several inspectors re-emerged around 5 p.m. and resumed their observations.
The survey of the structure may take several days. A written report on damage and recommendations is due in mid-October.
For the time being, the public is being kept away from the base of the monument, and no tourists are allowed up to the observation floor.
VIDEO #2: Rappeller, Emma Cardini from the 500-foot level of the Washington Monument (Courtesy: National Park Service)
Engineers harnessed to ropes inspect the exterior of the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument on Wednesday, September 28, 2011.
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