JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After months of construction, the first phase of the Capitol building repairs is nearing completion with a final date set for finishing the project Friday, Dec. 23rd, just a few weeks before the inauguration of the new governor.
The Missouri State Capitol Commission released the final date during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled commission meeting.
The work first began earlier this year, as part of a $40 million project which was passed by Governor Jay Nixon and the General Assembly back in 2015.
The first phase of the plan, the foundation and waterproofing package, began when crews removed each stone from the capitol steps on the south side. They carefully numbered each one and stored them at an off-site location as they worked to repair the lead sheeting underneath after dd. Crews then worked throughout the summer to lay a new waterproofing system over that sheeting in an effort to block water from leaking down into the Capitol basement.
It was an area of concern for the Nixon administration, as decades of water damage continued to build up below.
The need for repairs became clear when stalactites were found forming underneath the steps as water seeped through the cracks above.
Crews are now laying the old stones back in place, but some had concerns about the appearance.
“Please tell me we are not going to put steps in that look like a patchwork quilt,” Bob Priddy, commission member, author, and retired journalist, said.
Priddy said the appearance of the steps seemed remarkably different between the old steps and the replaced pieces.
Doug Nelson, Office of Administration commissioner, assured members of the commission that wouldn’t be the case.
“We have questioned the contractors, they have done the power washing, compared the new to old, and they remain confident it will look very similar,” Nelson said.
He also noted that the project is on target in terms of budgeting, but said more funding could be needed.
Meanwhile, preparations for phase two, which will address the facades, dome, and north plaza, are underway. The retaining wall height is also expected to be increased. Phase two is expected to begin summer 2017 and take an estimated 30-36 months.
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.