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Feds Announce Statue Of Liberty To Reopen In Time For July 4 Holiday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Lady Liberty will reopen in time to mark America's birthday, the Department of the Interior announced on Tuesday.

Visitors will once again be welcomed to the Statue of Liberty by July 4, 2013, following the completion of repairs needed after superstorm Sandy, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced.

"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 noted that the Statue of Liberty is an important part of New York's economy. A National Park Service report released last month showed that 3.7 million people visited Liberty Island in 2011. That translated to $174 million in economic activity and more than 2,200 jobs, according to the report.

"July 4th is the perfect day to reopen a symbol of our nation's freedom, and speaks volumes about New York's resilience," said Sen. Charles Schumer. "Lady Liberty was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, but just like New York, she will be back -- and stronger than ever. Being open for the summer tourism season isn't just important symbolically, it's a boon to the city's economy and businesses, as the statue attracts millions of tourists from all over the world to our shores. I thank Secretary Salazar for his extraordinary work -- he was uncommonly focused on getting this job done, and the people of New York appreciate it."

Feds Announce Statue Of Liberty To Reopen In Time For July 4 Holiday

Repairs to the docks needed to transport visitors to Liberty Island are being funded by the federal Sandy relief package.

This is the second time Salazar has announced the reopening of the Statue of Liberty. Shortly after taking office as Interior Secretary in 2009, Salazar visited Lady Liberty to announce that the crown, which had been closed to visitors since 9/11, would be reopened by July 4, 2010.

"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. "As we rebuild the region, we will do so in a way that makes New York and New Jersey stronger, safer and more resilient than ever before."

Local officials said the reopening of the Statue of Liberty will be a huge boon.

"The statue is the first thing people think of when they think of New York Harbor," said Downtown Alliance President Liz Berger. "It is an incredible tourist destination in Lower Manhattan."

Berger said the reopening of the Statue of Liberty means people staying in downtown hotels and eating in area restaurants.

"Not only will more tourists locally, nationally and internationally get to have the experience but the tourism and hospitality industry in Lower Manhattan will get a big boost," Berger told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell.

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