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Dec 2, 3:18 PM EST

Philanthropist to fund Washington Monument elevator repair

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AP Photo/Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A project to modernize the Washington Monument's elevator, estimated to cost $2 million to $3 million, will be paid for by businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein, officials announced Friday.

In a statement, the National Park Service said the project will correct ongoing mechanical, electrical and computer issues that have closed the monument' since Aug. 17. The elevator takes visitors to an observation deck near the top of the 555-foot monument.

"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," Rubenstein said in a statement.

The monument is expected to reopen to visitors in 2019.

Among other things, Rubenstein's gift will let officials replace the computer system that controls the elevator and add a remote diagnostic system that will allow technicians to quickly determine the cause of problems when they occur, officials said.

Rubenstein has helped fund repairs or improvements to a series of Washington icons. He gave $7.5 million to help restore the Washington Monument following an earthquake in 2011, repairs that cost $15 million and closed the monument for nearly three years. Earlier this year, he announced he would give $18 million to fix up the Lincoln Memorial. In 2015, he announced he would give more than $5 million to improve the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

Rubenstein's gift announced Friday is to the National Park Foundation, which raises private money to benefit the country's national parks.

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