Long cracks have formed in the national World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A 20-foot hairline fracture is visible on a major pillar on the Atlantic side of the site. Several smaller cracks are forming on the District of Columbia pillar.
The National Park Service said the cracks are not a safety risk, with no threat of pieces falling. The fractures are a growing blemish on the memorial, which was dedicated and opened in 2004.
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The agency has ordered an assessment of the damage and the cause. National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said there is no timetable for completion of the study or the commencement of repairs. Nor is there an estimate of possible costs, he said.
A U.S. House subcommittee, which was briefed on the fractures in the stones, issued a report this week about funding for the National Park Service. “This fracture requires immediate attention before further damage leads to increased repair costs,” the report said.
The National Park Service suffers from a backlog of needed repairs at its parks, memorials and sites nationwide. Litterst said the World War II Memorial repairs would not be added to the backlog, nor would it compete with other projects for funding. He said an endowment was created before the opening of the memorial to fund repairs on the site.
Litterst said if the condition deteriorates, repairs would be expedited. “Our first concern is public safety. If there is any indication that this is unstable, or might cause a safety issue, we’ll take steps.”
Approximately five million people visit the memorial each year, according to a Congressional report. Crowds are expected to swell at the site this the weekend, as the memorial marks its 15th anniversary.
U.S. Army veteran Randy Havlicak, who visited the memorial Thursday with his daughter, said repairs will ultimately be needed.
“This is something we have to fix. It makes no sense to build this beautiful memorial and let it go to shambles,” Havlicak said.