- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Workers erected scaffolding outside the Oklahoma Capitol on Monday as they begin trial repairs on the exterior of the nearly 100-year-old building.

The first phase of work on the Capitol’s exterior will include grinding out mortar from between the stone joints, addressing window repairs, and testing different methods for treating stains on the building’s limestone and granite facade, said State Capitol Project Manager Trait Thompson.

“This is really kind of the first evidence the average citizen might see of the work going on at the Capitol,” Thompson said, “although there’s been a great deal of planning and behind-the-scenes work going on to get ready for this point.”

The Legislature last year approved a $120 million bond issue to begin repairs to the building that was built between 1914 and 1917, with exterior work capped at $25 million, but Thompson said the final estimate for repairs to the building will likely far exceed that amount. He said he hopes to have a final estimate on the cost of both the interior and exterior work by November.

“At this point, I’d say it’s a virtual certainty that the final estimate will exceed that,” Thompson said.

He said similar Capitol building projects in Kansas, Minnesota and Wyoming have ranged from $250 million to $320 million.

Kansas-based JE Dunn Construction won the contract for the building’s exterior, which has extensive cracking and other damage. Since 2011, barricades have cordoned off the grand entrance to the south side of the building to prevent pedestrians from approaching areas where chunks of limestone have fallen.

Meanwhile, teams of architects and engineers are going room by room inside the Capitol and meeting with officials from some of the 20 different state agencies housed inside the building. Manhattan Construction, which is overseeing repairs to the building’s interior, will put together a comprehensive phased construction plan for repairing the interior of the building where an estimated 700 employees work during the legislative session.

He said the architects have made a number of interesting discoveries as they peer behind walls and ceiling tiles.

“Nobody’s poked open a wall and found a copy of the Declaration of Independence or anything like that, but they’ve found hidden design features, hidden elements of the building that haven’t really been exposed to the general public in a long, long time,” he said.


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