- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A $259 million plan to renovate Wyoming’s State Capitol and the adjacent Herschler Building is close to legislative approval.

The state House unanimously voted Wednesday to give final approval to the Capitol Square Project.

The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle reported Thursday that the Senate, which has passed the bill, and the House need to agree to minor amendments before sending it on to Gov. Matt Mead.

The Capitol building was commissioned in 1886 and last saw renovations in 1980. Consultants say its heating, cooling, fire and other systems must be upgraded. Structural repairs also are needed, including parts of the stone exterior, leaking skylights and hail damage to the roof and dome.

The legislation would also pay for $86 million to renovate and expand the Herschler Building. Repairs include expanding an underground connector between the Capitol and the Herschler Building and erecting a four-story addition to the building’s north side.

The building and corridor renovations provide needed space for committee rooms and state workers, said Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, who co-chairs a joint executive and legislative branch task force on the renovation.

About $40 million is needed for furniture, fixtures and other non-construction costs.

Republican Rep. Tom Lubnau of Gillette, the House speaker, called the Capitol a “time bomb” because of its fire risk.

“This building could fill with smoke and be a life hazard within five minutes of the ignition of a fire,” Lubnau said. “We’ve been lucky, and we’ve dodged bullets for a hundred years. But it’s about time we start addressing the needs and making a Capitol that fits the needs of the 21st century, not the 19th.”

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Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com