The National Park Service (NPS) says it hopes to partially open both Liberty and Ellis islands this summer, which would be nearly a year after the Oct. 29, 2012 Superstorm Sandy caused massive damage and forced their closures. Docks, the promenade and structures surrounding the statue were among the most severely damaged, as well as the electrical systems, wastewater treatment and security screening equipment.
Liberty Island's severely damaged docks, walkways and other park infrastructure are "key" to a reopening and welcoming visitors back [to that island], says David Luchsinger, superintendent at NPS, which manages the monument. “We have been working diligently on planning efforts so that we can move quickly once funding has been identified,” Luchsinger says. Congress passed funding that will go toward infrastructure repair only a few weeks ago, he says, and so an exact time line for reopening has not been determined.
Officials say that reports earlier this year announcing that the island would reopen to the public by Memorial Day were incorrect.
On Feb. 4, Sen. Charles Schumer (D., NY) urged the Dept. of Interior to set a "hard and fast timeline" for repairing and reopening the island. "The Statue of Liberty is still shuttered more than three months after Sandy struck the city, and tourists, businesses and all New Yorkers need to know that the end is in sight," he said in a statement.
On Feb. 12, the Federal Highway Administration provided NPS with $28 million in emergency funding to repair New York and New Jersey roads and bridges in federal parks and recreation areas damaged by Sandy. The Statue of Liberty National Monument is slated to receive some of that funding.
Emergency responders initially assessed damages at $59 million after the storm but a complete cost estimate is yet to be determined, says Linda Friar, a spokeswoman at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.
Joseph A. Natoli Construction Corp., Pine Brook, N.J., under contract with NPS, has already removed Liberty Island's 7,060-sq-ft timber service dock, which is used for equipment and emergency transport access. The estimated cost of the dock's demolition, removal and disposal is about $282,000, NPS says.
Plans are in place to replace the service dock, but the agency is still assessing] how to handle the second dock, which is the main visitor dock, Friar says. Even after the dock work is complete, however, other significant infrastructure projects including power and communications restoration and a security screening facility installation must be completed before the parks can reopen, Friar says.
The Statue of Liberty reopened on Oct. 28, just one day before Sandy pummeled the surrounding New York Harbor, after a one-year, $30-million upgrade. The statue's pedestal and base sustained little or no damage from the storm, which hit just one day after the statue was reopened following a one-year, $30-million renovation project for which Natoli was the contractor.