PISA, Italy - When the tower was closed to the public a decade ago, officials said it would be open again in just a few years. The ambitious plan to stop the tower's increasing tilt has taken far longer than expected, but officials say it is succeeding.
Engineers are working on a complex project to stabilize, but not totally straighten, the 58-meter (189-foot) bell tower, which was leaning five meters (16 feet) from the vertical at the start of the latest stabilization work in 1998. Giant steel braces were applied to protect the 150,000-ton tower during excavation designed to take it fractionally back toward the upright.
The lean has been gradually reduced. On Saturday, the tower was tilting 14 centimeters less (5.6 inches) than in January, said Edda Stagno, a spokeswoman for the project. The goal is to reduce the tilt by about 45 centimeters (18 inches) and restore the marble masterpiece to its angle of 300 years ago. "Then we'll be set for the next two-and-a-half centuries," spokeswoman Edda Stagno said.
Project officials hope to have the work finished next spring. When they do, the monument will lean less than it did in 1700 -- enough to stabilize it, but not enough for the naked eye to detect.
The tower is built on a spongy subsoil in an area known as the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). It was started in 1173 as a belfry for the nearby cathedral and has been leaning to the south since its third story was added in 1274. It was completed in 1350.
The experts warn that even when the tower reopens, visitors might not be allowed in regularly. "The monument might hardly sustain the millions of tourists who would flock to it every year," warned a member of the experts' committee, Giorgio Macchi, pointing out how past visitors have worn down the stairs.
Only a handful of people have been inside since the tower was closed to tourists in 1990.
ambitious (Adj) – optimistic, expecting to do a lot
angle (N) – 〈 variation from perpendicular ⊥ position
braces (N) – supports, scaffolds, a metal system to hold it in place
excavation (N) – digging beneath the tower
flock (V) – come in large numbers, especially birds e.g., a flock of birds
fractionally (Adv) – not completely, not whole
masterpiece (N) – a work of great skill or art
monument (N) – landmark, building or place of great historical or cultural importance
tilt (N) – lean; not 90ø or perpendicular ⊥ to the ground
point out (V) – indicate, show a particular detail or problem
right (V) – correct
spokeswoman (N) – a person chosen to speak on behalf of a group or organization
spongy subsoil – a base of foundation that is not firm or strong
sustain (V) – able to keep going, supoort, endure
stabilize (V) – make able to stand firmly on its own
unright (N) – standing up, more perpendicular ⊥
4. Does this sentence use the present perfect tense?
A) Project officials hope to have the work finished next spring. (causative verb "have"; they will manage the workers until completion)
B) Project officials have finished the work this spring. (present perfect; the activity started in the past and recently ended)
These are other examples of "have" which mean to employ or arrange a service.