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Statue of Liberty to reopen soon, officials say

From Mike Ahlers
CNN Washington Bureau

The Statue of Liberty has been closed to visitors since the September 11, 2001, attacks.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Statue of Liberty, which has been closed to visitors since the September 11, 2001, attacks, will be reopened shortly, national park officials told Congress on Thursday.

Park officials, testifying at a hearing on Capitol Hill, declined to give specifics, saying they did not want to usurp the authority of Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who will make the official announcement.

But under questioning from lawmakers, National Park Service Deputy Director Don Murphy said the reopening is imminent.

He said a $7 million contribution from the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation has helped security, health and safety enhancements at the site.

Pressed for a date, Murphy said, "Let me say candidly the reopening of the statue is really imminent. We've worked very hard. The plan is in the secretary's office. They're working on it almost as we speak, and we're going to be making an announcement in that regard sometime soon."

Murphy said it will cost $1.4 million to keep the statue open through fiscal 2005.

The site's grounds were closed after the attacks but have since reopened.

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