The challenges to installing three elevators within the Statue of Liberty are monumental.
The statue is on an island so everything must be taken over by boat; it’s a beloved landmark so the utmost care must be taken at all times; it’s base is an historic fort that is an important site in its own rite and tourists will be allowed to wander around the island throughout the renovation project.
These obstacles were not too great, though, for two Long Valley natives whose company won a contract to build three elevators within the statue, which celebrates the 125th anniversary of its dedication Friday before it closes for a year to undergo what U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said is a $27.25 million renovation that will make the interior safer and more accessible.
“The security for all trucks and mechanics going on and off the island is more stringent than going through an airport,” said Douglas J. Muttart, president of Liberty Elevator Corp., which is working with Joseph A. Natoli Construction Corp. of Montville to install new elevators in the statue.
“The statue stands on a fort, Fort Wood, which is older than the statue, so we are working on two landmarks that are so important to the country,” said Muttart, who now lives in Ridgewood. “Every single piece of work is heavily scrutinized. There’s even a full-time archeologist on site at all times while we are working.”
The three elevators include a handicapped-accessible elevator, an emergency elevator and an environmentally friendly machine-room-less elevator (MRL) that will rise 112 feet. All of the equipment that Liberty will install is American-made and non-proprietary, the company said in a statement.
Upgrades to the stairways, bathrooms and electrical and fire suppression systems will also be completed.
All interiors of the Statue itself including the museum, pedestal and crown, will be closed to the public while this work takes place, according to the National Park Service, which said in a news release that the island itself will remain open and Rangers will remain on duty to provide interpretive walks and talks to visitors.
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