Washington Monument to Remain Closed for Repairs Until 2019

Posted on: December 2nd, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Washington Monument, one of Washington, D.C.’s most recognizable landmarks and the centerpiece of the National Mall, will remain closed for at least two years as workers modernize the structure’s elevator and construct a permanent screening facility, the National Park Service announced Friday.

The monument has been shuttered since August following three separate closures, including one after a cable broke loose from the bottom of its elevator. Efforts to evaluate necessary repairs occurred at the end of the summer and initially estimated a nine-month time frame to overhaul the elevator. That projection was revised Friday to include additional work, pushing back the reopening of the monument until 2019.

“We’ve added a second component of the project which is [the screening facility,]” said National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst. “That was already on the agenda, but rather than one after the other, we’re hoping to do it concurrently.”

Completed in 1888, the 555-foot-tall obelisk has undergone a series of repairs in recent decades. A major restoration shrouded the structure in scaffolding from 1998 to 2001 as it underwent a cleaning and added new exhibits. Then, following an earthquake in August 2011, almost two years of work went into repairing cracks and broken stone in the monument.

Renovations to the elevator are expected to cost $2-3 million and will be funded with a donation from businessman David Rubenstein, who is noted for his philanthropy pertaining to historic American landmarks. Since 2012, Rubenstein has pledged almost $50 million to various National Park Service projects, including the earthquake-induced repairs to the Washington Monument and an ongoing restoration of the Lincoln Memorial.

“The monument has become a symbol of our country, and reminds everyone of the towering strengths of our first president. I am honored to help make this symbol safely accessible again to all Americans as soon as practicable,” said Rubenstein in a statement provided by the National Park Service.

Construction on the Washington Monument’s elevator will feature a replacement of the computerized control system and the addition of a “diagnostic system” which will make it easier for NPS employees to recognize and rectify future issues, should they occur. Other upgrades include new doors, ropes, cables and rollers and the installation of landings in the elevator shaft.

A temporary security screening area has existed at the monument since 2001. Funds for the new facility, which are not covered by Rubenstein’s donation, were requested by the National Park Service in its President’s Budget Request for the 2017 fiscal year.

Washington, D.C., Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who previously criticized the National Park Service over repeated closures of the monument, thanked Rubenstein for his donation and expressed hope that the project would ensure easier access for visitors.

“The much-needed modernization of the monument’s elevator will resolve the chronic problems that have forced repeated shutdowns of the monument, many of which occurred during peak tourist season,” reads a statement from Norton.

However, the continued closure of the monument ensures that it will not be able to receive guests during the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20. Past inaugurations have drawn over 1 million visitors to Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Washington Monument to Remain Closed for Repairs Until 2019

Posted on: December 2nd, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Washington Monument, one of Washington, D.C.’s most recognizable landmarks and the centerpiece of the National Mall, will remain closed for at least two years as workers modernize the structure’s elevator and construct a permanent screening facility, the National Park Service announced Friday.

The monument has been shuttered since August following three separate closures, including one after a cable broke loose from the bottom of its elevator. Efforts to evaluate necessary repairs occurred at the end of the summer and initially estimated a nine-month time frame to overhaul the elevator. That projection was revised Friday to include additional work, pushing back the reopening of the monument until 2019.

“We’ve added a second component of the project which is [the screening facility,]” said National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst. “That was already on the agenda, but rather than one after the other, we’re hoping to do it concurrently.”

Completed in 1888, the 555-foot-tall obelisk has undergone a series of repairs in recent decades. A major restoration shrouded the structure in scaffolding from 1998 to 2001 as it underwent a cleaning and added new exhibits. Then, following an earthquake in August 2011, almost two years of work went into repairing cracks and broken stone in the monument.

Renovations to the elevator are expected to cost $2-3 million and will be funded with a donation from businessman David Rubenstein, who is noted for his philanthropy pertaining to historic American landmarks. Since 2012, Rubenstein has pledged almost $50 million to various National Park Service projects, including the earthquake-induced repairs to the Washington Monument and an ongoing restoration of the Lincoln Memorial.

“The monument has become a symbol of our country, and reminds everyone of the towering strengths of our first president. I am honored to help make this symbol safely accessible again to all Americans as soon as practicable,” said Rubenstein in a statement provided by the National Park Service.

Construction on the Washington Monument’s elevator will feature a replacement of the computerized control system and the addition of a “diagnostic system” which will make it easier for NPS employees to recognize and rectify future issues, should they occur. Other upgrades include new doors, ropes, cables and rollers and the installation of landings in the elevator shaft.

A temporary security screening area has existed at the monument since 2001. Funds for the new facility, which are not covered by Rubenstein’s donation, were requested by the National Park Service in its President’s Budget Request for the 2017 fiscal year.

Washington, D.C., Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who previously criticized the National Park Service over repeated closures of the monument, thanked Rubenstein for his donation and expressed hope that the project would ensure easier access for visitors.

“The much-needed modernization of the monument’s elevator will resolve the chronic problems that have forced repeated shutdowns of the monument, many of which occurred during peak tourist season,” reads a statement from Norton.

However, the continued closure of the monument ensures that it will not be able to receive guests during the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20. Past inaugurations have drawn over 1 million visitors to Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US Stocks Close Mixed After November Jobs Report

Posted on: December 2nd, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street closed mixed Friday after the November jobs report was released.

The Dow fell 21.51 (-0.11 percent) to finish at 19,170.42.

The Nasdaq gained 4.55 (+0.09 percent) to close at 5,255.65, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,191.95, up 0.87 (+0.04 percent) from its open.

Crude oil jumped over 1 percent with prices hitting about $52 a barrel.

Jobs Report: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 178,000 jobs were added last month and the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent. The solid numbers will likely reinforce the Federal Reserve’s case to raise interest rates this month, the second time the country has seen a rate hike since the 2008 recession.

Winners and Losers: Shares in Starbucks Corporation sunk 2 percent after CEO Howard Schultz announced he would be stepping down from the company.

Pandora Media Inc’s stock soared 16 percent on a CNBC report that the music streaming company is reportedly looking for a buyer.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US Stocks Close Mixed After November Jobs Report

Posted on: December 2nd, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street closed mixed Friday after the November jobs report was released.

The Dow fell 21.51 (-0.11 percent) to finish at 19,170.42.

The Nasdaq gained 4.55 (+0.09 percent) to close at 5,255.65, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,191.95, up 0.87 (+0.04 percent) from its open.

Crude oil jumped over 1 percent with prices hitting about $52 a barrel.

Jobs Report: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 178,000 jobs were added last month and the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent. The solid numbers will likely reinforce the Federal Reserve’s case to raise interest rates this month, the second time the country has seen a rate hike since the 2008 recession.

Winners and Losers: Shares in Starbucks Corporation sunk 2 percent after CEO Howard Schultz announced he would be stepping down from the company.

Pandora Media Inc’s stock soared 16 percent on a CNBC report that the music streaming company is reportedly looking for a buyer.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Ford Recalls Nearly 650K Vehicles over Seat Belt Issue

Posted on: December 2nd, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

The Ford Motor Company (DEARBORN, Mich.) — Ford is recalling close to 650,000 vehicles in North America over a seat belt issue.

The recall affects certain 2013-2016 Ford Fusion and 2013-2015 Lincoln MKZ sedans. Ford says the seat belt anchor pretensioners in these vehicles need to be insulated.

“In the affected vehicles, increased temperatures generated during deployment of the seat belt anchor pretensioner could cause pretensioner cables to separate, which may inadequately restrain an occupant in a crash, increasing risk of injury,” the automaker explained in a press release.

So far, Ford has been notified of two accidents and two injuries related to this issue.

Customers who are affected by the recall will be able to go to their local Ford dealer, where a coating will be injected into the seat belt anchor pretensioners at no cost.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Ford Recalls Nearly 650K Vehicles over Seat Belt Issue

Posted on: December 2nd, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

The Ford Motor Company (DEARBORN, Mich.) — Ford is recalling close to 650,000 vehicles in North America over a seat belt issue.

The recall affects certain 2013-2016 Ford Fusion and 2013-2015 Lincoln MKZ sedans. Ford says the seat belt anchor pretensioners in these vehicles need to be insulated.

“In the affected vehicles, increased temperatures generated during deployment of the seat belt anchor pretensioner could cause pretensioner cables to separate, which may inadequately restrain an occupant in a crash, increasing risk of injury,” the automaker explained in a press release.

So far, Ford has been notified of two accidents and two injuries related to this issue.

Customers who are affected by the recall will be able to go to their local Ford dealer, where a coating will be injected into the seat belt anchor pretensioners at no cost.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.