- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An elaborate scaffolding system has started to go up on the north side of Oklahoma’s nearly 100-year-old state Capitol, signaling that a multi-year project to renovate and update the building for its next century is getting underway.

“We are fixing to start major operations on the exterior of the building,” Trait Thompson, project manager for the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said Thursday during a presentation with Josh Martin of JE Dunn Construction.

The two briefed Capitol employees on the scope of the work and how they may be inconvenienced during the three-year, $52 million project. Project organizers estimate that keeping the 452,000-square-foot building open and functioning during the repairs will save $7 million in relocations costs.

“There will be times that it is intrusive,” Thompson said.

Among other things, all of the Capitol’s more than 500 exterior windows and doors will be removed, repaired and updated, and 21 miles of mortar joints will be repaired.

“We will pick out literally every inch of grout,” said Martin, whose company has performed similar projects on the Kansas and Minnesota state Capitol buildings. “It’s a time-consuming process.”

Martin said as many as 55 highly-skilled workers will be needed to repair the Capitol’s exterior and its 200,000 square feet of stone facade. Many weathered and cracked stones will be replaced, he said. The structure’s exterior is composed mainly of white limestone from Indiana with a base of Oklahoma pink granite originally quarried from an area near Tishomingo known as the Ten-Acre Rock.

The repair work is the first phase of a $245 million effort to repair, renovate and update the state Capitol inside and out, which will start later this year and last about six years. Interior work will include extensive repairs, as well as replacing aging infrastructure and updating plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems. Workers will also provide natural gas service to power new emergency generators and add stairwells at dead end corridors to address fire code issues.

Construction of the state Capitol was launched July 20, 1914, when Oklahoma’s second governor, Lee Cruce, used a pick axe to break ground during a ceremony that historical photos show was attended by hundreds of people, some of whom traveled to the site in horse-drawn carriages.

The reinforced-concrete building was occupied in June 1917, just two months after the United States declared war on Germany and entered World War I. A $21 million dome was completed in 2002 - 85 years after original plans for a Capitol dome were shelved due to a lack of money and steel during the war.

Since 2011, barricades have cordoned off the south side of the Capitol to prevent visitors from climbing the steps leading to the south portico after chunks of mortar and pieces of limestone began falling from the building facade.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide