D.C.

Washington Monument remeasured by surveyors

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Is the Washington Monument sinking?

It’s a question scientists are trying to answer, and their height survey could have a widespread impact on the District.

The National Geodetic Survey is trying to measure the height of the monument by using the scaffolding to get up into the apex.

“The monument’s a very prominent site for people to visit,” says Dr. Dru Smith, NGS chief geodesist. “They like to know how high it is, but for our purposes, the really important thing is we want to be able to determine if there are any changes going on to the monument.”

In 1934, surveyors actually climbed out of a window and took measurements from a wooden platform. They did it again during a 1999 facelift. 

On Thursday, surveyors demonstrated high-tech equipment that received a laser from the monument top to spit out data.

There were concerns after the 2011 5.8-magnitude earthquake, which caused millions of dollars in damage and raised fears the monument was shrinking or sinking. After all, the Mall itself was basically built on a swamp. But a survey conducted last year at the base of the monument found that it had not sunk any further into the ground after the earthquake.

Maintaining accurate measurements also ensures the integrity of flight and keeps the tourists happy.

“I think it’s a good idea,’ says Herb Lancaster, of Woodbury, NJ. “I’d like this thing to be around for a few hundred more years.” 

The goal of the survey is to establish a definitive height that can be used as a reference point. Results of the new survey won't be available for around 2 to 3 months. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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