- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Parking and access at the State Capitol is about to become more difficult, as work begins on a massive project to improve security around the 34-story building.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1ztunQZ ) the $4.37 million project will take part of the parking lot in front of the Capitol building to create a pedestrian plaza between the foot of the steps that have the names of states chiseled on them and the sunken formal garden. Four security posts will be installed, and parking will be controlled around the building for much of the year.

Eventually, the number of parking spaces will increase slightly, but vehicles will be routed further away from the building.

The upgrade is expected to be completed by March 22, a few weeks before the April 13 start of the 2015 legislative session.

“It increases security around the Capitol Park. It will improve traffic flow. It will be a more pedestrian-friendly campus, once the project is completed,” said State Office of Facility Planning Director Mark Moses. “It’s a project, at the end of the day, that makes everything better.”

Work on the project, which has been talked about for years, began this week after funding finally became available.

The structure was built between 1930 and 1932 by Huey Long at a cost of about $5 million. “As of 1930, it was a symbol of the continuity of the political domination of Louisiana’s traditional social and economic elite over the State’s fortunes,” according to the 1978 nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places.

In recent years, X-ray machines have been added to scan visitors’ belongings. But concerns have remained about the ease with which someone could pull up next to the building with a truckload of explosives.

Deliveries will no longer be allowed under the back door portico near the governor’s parking space.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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