Mr. Ken Salazar, secretary of the interior department, announced that the crown of the statue of liberty re-opens. This would be the first time the crown opens since the 9/11 terrorist attack. Mr. Salazar announced the good news to Americans at a press conference on the Ellis Island. The crown of the statue of liberty is set to re-open on the 4th of July 2009.

After the September terrorist attacks, the statue was closed down due to security concerns. However, the lower observation deck, the base and the pedestal have since been reopened.

Last month, the National Park service carried out an analysis of the statue to establish whether it was ready for public use. The analysis was also looking into ways of how risk for visitors can be reduced. This was the basis of Mr. Salazar’s confidence in the re-opening of the structure. In regard to safety, Mr. Salazar said that although all risk cannot be eliminated, considerable steps are being taken to make the climbing safer.

Among the safety measures to be taken include visitors going in groups of 10 only, with a mandatory accompaniment by a park ranger. Only 30 visitors per hour, who will be chosen by lottery, can visit the crown at any given time. Other measures include heightening the handrails on the staircases, and having park rangers stationed all over the statue. A narrow double-helix spiral staircase of 168 step leads to the crown.

Ellis Island, the historic immigration centre in New York harbour will also benefit from a $25M funding for improvements such as stabilizing and repairing a 1908 building and the Island’s seawall. This is in light to the fact at least 40% of Americans can trace an ancestor who came in through the island. After two years, the statue of liberty will be closed down for further safety work.

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