- Associated Press - Sunday, April 30, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Scaffolding will soon envelop the Iowa Capitol dome as workers continue a $10 million renovation project that won’t be finished for at least a year.

Crews began repairs to the 131-year-old building in April but their work will become more evident this week as scaffolding goes up around the dome windows, edging up over lower parts of the Capitol’s gold-plating.

“You’ll notice it,” said facilities manager Mark Willemssen.

The work is needed to fix internal cracks and exterior weathering.

On the inside of the dome, sections of brick and mortar have started to crumble due to humidity. Workers will replace sections of ruined brick and install a permanent fiberglass platform to better monitor deterioration in the future.

Officials hope the external work will be completed by Thanksgiving, but the internal fixes are expected to take at least 12 months.

Exterior repairs include repainting windows and frames, replacing glass in some windows and checking structural joints.

“It’s a constant maintenance challenge to keep up with,” said Sen. Matt McCoy, a Des Moines Democrat.

McCoy served on a committee that authorized the funding, which later was approved by the full Legislature.

Willemssen said the Capitol needs significant repairs about every 20 years.

“It’s like maintenance to your house,” he said.

Workers won’t need to re-gild the dome, a task last completed in 1999 at a cost of about $400,000. The gold leaf is expected to last another 10 to 15 years.

Construction of the Capitol began in 1871 and was completed in 1886 at a cost of about $2.9 million. The dome reaches 275 feet above the building’s ground floor.

“When it comes to the Capitol, everyone wants to preserve it,” McCoy said. “There’s bipartisan support to keep it beautiful because everyone’s really proud of it.”

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