New York City's Statue of Liberty, closed to visitors since Superstorm Sandy hit in late October, will reopen by Independence Day, the National Park Service announced Tuesday.
"Sandy inflicted major damage on facilities that support the Statue of Liberty - destroying the docks, crippling the energy infrastructure on Ellis Island and wiping out the security screening system - but we are fully committed to reopening this crown jewel as soon as it's safe for visitors and not a second later," Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a statement. "Based on the tremendous progress we have made, Lady Liberty will be open to the public in time for the July 4th celebration."
Salazar emphasized the importance of reopening the statue to the New York economy. A park service report released last month showed 3.7 million people visited the site in 2011, generating $174 million in economic activity and supporting 2,218 jobs.
Repairs to the docks needed to transport visitors to Liberty Island are being funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Lands Highways Program, as part of $28 million committed to roads and bridges in federal parks and recreation areas in New York and New Jersey damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Officials estimated as much as three-fourths of Liberty Island's 12 acres was flooded, notes the Associated Press, with water reaching as high as 8 feet.
Sandy arrived one day after the Statue of Liberty's 126th birthday and the reopening of the crown, which had been closed for a year for a $30 million upgrade to fire alarms, sprinkler systems and exit routes.