(NEW YORK) — The Statue of Liberty, closed to the public since superstorm Sandy five months ago, will reopen by July 4, the Department of the Interior said Tuesday.
“Hurricane Sandy inflicted major damage on facilities that support the Statue of Liberty — destroying the docks, crippling the energy infrastructure on Ellis Island and wiping out the security screening system — but we are fully committed to reopening this crown jewel as soon as it’s safe for visitors and not a second later,” U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a news release. “Based on the tremendous progress we have made, Lady Liberty will be open to the public in time for the July 4th celebration.”
No exact date has been given, but opening the statue by the symbolic Fourth of July holiday is a priority.
“July Fourth is the perfect day to reopen a symbol of our nation’s freedom, and speaks volumes about New York’s resilience,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer said. “Lady Liberty was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, but just like New York, she will be back — and stronger than ever.”
Keeping the statue open is important to the New York state economy. About 3.7 million people visited the park in 2011, generating $174 million in economic activity and supporting 2,218 jobs, according to an annual report released last month by the National Park Service.
The statue shut down the day after its grand reopening last year. It opened on Oct. 28, 2012 after a year-long, $30 million renovation. According to a storm-damage report published by the National Park Service, the statue closed because “all electrical and mechanicals on Ellis Island are underwater; a fuel tank has been dislodged [and Liberty Island may have lost all high-voltage equipment.” It was the statue’s 126th birthday.
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Jethro Mullen, Ravi Hiranand and Frank Pallotta, CNN
Heather Long, CNN