NPS investigating cause of elevator failures at Washington Monument

WASHINGTON – Just days after the repaired Washington Monument reopened with ceremonies and fanfare, a malfunctioning elevator let fans down.

But problems with the landmark’s elevator may have dogged the obelisk for more than a year, according to an ABC7 report.

U.S. Park Police hazardous conditions reports detail numerous breakdowns in the days ahead of the May 12 re-opening.

The Saturday before the opening, the elevator trapped a park employee inside and stopped working for a time later the same day. The next day another malfunction occurred, according to ABC7.

The National Park Service, which runs the monument, announced Wednesday that it has called for specialists to figure out what is wrong with the elevator.

The elevator was inspected and deemed safe for public use as part of the $15 million earthquake repairs. Some cables and weights that were damaged during the quake were replaced, the park service says.

“It is disappointing that this happened so soon after the reopening, but we will correct any problems the elevator may continue to have, sooner rather than later,” National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Bob Vogel said in a written statement.

NPS says that the elevator controller does not recognize that the doors are closed, causing it stop.

The elevator runs 13 hours a day, 7 days a week serving many of the 700,000 people who visit the monument each year.

No visitors have been trapped inside the elevator however 60 people were evacuated from the 555-foot structure using the stairs, according to the park service.

Spokeswoman Carol Johnson says the visitors were on the observation level 500 feet up on May 14 and had to walk down nearly 900 steps. The elevator stopped about 20 feet above the ground floor, according to the Associated Press.

ABC7 says there are elevator access points at each landing along the stairwell.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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