SHARECOMMENTMORE

NEW YORK -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the National Park Service expects to reopen the Statue of Liberty to visitors by July 4 after repairing the extensive damage to Liberty Island caused by Hurricane Sandy.

"Hurricane 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 Salazar said.

"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.

An annual report released last month by the National Park Service showed that 3.7 million people visited the park 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.

Three days after taking office, Salazar visited the Statue of Liberty in January 2009 to announce that the crown, which had been closed following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, would be re-opened to the public by the following July 4.

"I fully expect that once again we will meet the July 4th deadline to reopen Lady Liberty, thanks to the commitment and hard work of the National Park Service staff, the Department of Transportation, and our many local and state partners," Salazar said.