NEW YORK, Aug. 11 (UPI) — The Statue of Liberty will close in October, the day after its 125th anniversary, for a year’s worth of safety upgrades, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the $27.5 million project was delayed by planning and getting funding in place, The New York Times reported Thursday. He promised “a major step in bringing a 19th-century icon into the 21st century.”
Liberty Island is to remain open to tourists, although the statue will be closed beginning Oct. 29. David Luchsinger, the National Park Service superintendent for Liberty and Ellis islands, said most visitors do not climb the statue and will get “exactly the same experience” while it is closed.
The changes include replacing the elevator, upgrading electrical systems and adding new fire suppression equipment and enclosing one of the staircases.
“It’s safe now, but it will be so much safer when we’re done,” Luchsinger said.
The entire statue was closed for three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The crown, which can only be reached by climbing 146 steps, did not reopen until 2009.