- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Work on a nearly $300-million restoration of the Wyoming Capitol building and a neighboring state office building is set to start this summer.

Gov. Matt Mead and top state legislators are sitting as an oversight group to manage the project. They heard briefings Tuesday from architects and a representative of contractor J.E. Dunn Construction, a company based in Missouri that has handled renovations of capitol buildings in Kansas, Minnesota and other states.

Plans call for the Wyoming Capitol to be completely refurbished, including new mechanical, fire-suppression and elevator systems.

The oversight group on Tuesday agreed that renovation of the neighboring Herschler Building should include new sandstone covering to match the look of the Capitol.

Michael O’Donnell, special assistant Wyoming attorney general, is coordinating the project, which has been in the planning stages for several years.

Final construction drawings of some aspects of the project won’t be completed until September, not in August as previously scheduled, O’Donnell told the oversight group Tuesday. The state may not be in position to sign an agreement with the contractor on its guaranteed maximum price until all the drawings are completed, O’Donnell said.

Mead questioned construction manager Dustin Liljehorn of J.E. Dunn about the contract.

“Dustin, you understand what it means to us when you talk about a guaranteed maximum price, right?” Mead said. “That means a maximum price, not with another 20 percent hanging out there.”

Speaking during a break in the meeting, O’Donnell said planning for the renovation project discovered that the existing limestone on the exterior of the Herschler Building has been capturing water and that the steel structure that holds the stone skin on the building has corroded.

“The exterior of that building has to be repaired or replaced somehow,” he said.

J.E. Dunn is handing the work on both the Capitol and the Herschler Building as well as the “gallery,” or tunnel that connects the two buildings, O’Donnell said. The combined price for the entire project is set at $299 million, of which $221 million is budgeted for construction costs, he said. Other costs include leases for other buildings, moving expenses and utilities.

Groundbreaking on the project, including preliminary work such as covering the Capitol with scaffolding, will start in late July or early August, O’Donnell said. The official groundbreaking for actual construction will be in the fall, he said.

Workers with the state’s Legislative Service Office will begin vacating their offices in the Capitol in mid-June, O’Donnell said. He said he expects all elected officials and their staffs out of the building by mid-August.

“The Herschler Building is scheduled for a two-year construction timeframe,” O’Donnell said. “The historic (Capitol) building is scheduled for three years. The combined project is designed to get everybody back into the Capitol Square complex by the fall of 2018.”

The project will bring the Capitol up to current building codes, O’Donnell said.

“It is way out of compliance with codes, in fact it’s on the edge of being condemned __ fire safety, things like that. The floor plans will be completely redone in order to accommodate all of that mechanical work. The floor plans will continue to be the subject of ongoing meetings by this group,” he said.

While the current finishes in much of the Capitol are from the 1970s, O’Donnell said the goal of the project is to restore the building to its look during about 1920.

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