RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Mount Rushmore National Memorial is getting a face-lift.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is under construction. (KOTA TV)
Tourists come from near and far to take photos with the four U.S presidents in the background, but now the backdrop is different.
Visitors now see a major construction project blocking people's view on the Grand View Terrace.
Construction workers are redoing the restrooms, elevators, carpeting and the heating/AC and ventilation system at the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center.
The colorful Avenue of Flags that many people look forward to is now gone. All 56 flags and the columns were removed to widen the area to alleviate congestion.
Every year, about three million people visit the attraction.
One tourist drove all the way from Rochester, N.Y. with her family to see the attraction and was disappointed.
"People come from all over and for it to be like, part of it close during the summer peak hours, it's definitely a disappointment. I mean, I understand there's winter and everything but you would think that maybe possibly they can do it spring, fall. Maybe not when there is such high peak season, you know," said tourist Agnes Elias.
The construction will last for about 18 to 24 months at an $8 million. Grand View Terrace is the roof of the visitor center and after experiencing numerous leaks, the drainage system needs will be repaired.
"It's one of the reasons why we need to redo one of the restrooms because we have had leaks in the restrooms. Some of that is just because you have a building that is half underground and you need to make sure that any water that sits on top, whether it's rain, snow or any of those things, has a place to go, away from the building," said Mount Rushmore National Memorial Chief of Interpretation and Education Maureen McGee-Ballinger.
McGee-Ballinger said visitors can still take a walk on the Presidential Trail and enjoy the view of the massive art piece from the Sculptor's Studio.