New York: The iconic Statue of Liberty will remain close to the public for about a year as it undergoes an over 27 million dollar renovation beginning later this year to make the monument more safe and accessible.

The National Park Service will keep the monument open to the public till October 28, after the 125th anniversary celebrations of the statue's dedication. It will be closed the following day as work commences.

However, Liberty Island, where the copper statue is located, will remain open during the project and views of Lady Liberty will remain largely unobstructed during the year-long upgrade to the statue's interior, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a statement.

"Two years ago, when we reopened Lady Liberty's crown to visitors for the first time since the September 11 attacks, I promised that we would continue to upgrade the interior to make it safer and more accessible for all," Salazar said. "We are taking a major step in bringing a 19th century icon into the 21st century."

Salazar said the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island will undergo a 27.25 million dollar renovation that includes long-planned safety and other critical facility renovations.

The National Park Service awarded the work to Joseph Natoli Construction Corporation of New Jersey to install code compliant stairways within the monument, update mechanical, electrical and fire suppression systems, replace elevators and rehabilitate restrooms. The improvements will also allow for increased visitor access to the monument, including the pedestal and the museum.

Salazar re-opened the crown of the Statue of Liberty to visitors on July 4, 2009 after it was closed following the 9/11 attacks for safety and security reasons. For safety considerations, the National Park Service has to limit the number of visitors to the crown to groups of no more than 10 visitors at a time. With approximately three groups ascending the crown per hour, an average of 240 visitors climb to the crown each day.

National Park Rangers will remain on site to provide interpretation to Statue of Liberty visitors, most of whom tour only the outdoor grounds of Liberty Island, with only a small percentage securing a reservation for entry into the monument. Approximately 3.5 million people visit the American symbol of freedom every year.

The project is funded through a combination of National Park Service appropriations and the park Concession Franchise Fee programme.

A gift from France, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924, inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1984 and restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986.

(Agencies)