With a stroke of her pen, Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday set in motion the biggest refurbishment of the state Capitol since it was built nearly a century ago.
She signed a measure that authorizes $120 million in bonds to pay for repairs to the building, which is crumbling on the exterior and beset by electrical and plumbing problems.
“The state Capitol is the seat of our government and an important symbol of Oklahoma,” Fallin said. “The disrepair it had fallen into was a black eye for the entire state. This bond issue offers a responsible way to rebuild and repair the people’s house. My thanks go out to our legislators for taking action to restore the Capitol.”
A bipartisan committee is to oversee the repairs.
Exterior repairs to begin first
Exterior work could begin in late summer or early fall. Interior work should begin next year.
Capitol architect Duane Mass said approval of a plan to fix the building came in the nick of time.
“Time and decay have been eroding so many of this building’s critical components,” he said.
“We can now ensure a program to halt the damaging infiltration of water, evidenced by falling limestone and concrete, and to replace worn and faulty plumbing and 100-year-old wiring, which at any moment can place this critical structure out of service. Work on the building in the months ahead will ensure that the Capitol will provide another century of service to Oklahoma.”
Scaffolding will be erected, and workers will replace deteriorated limestone blocks, creating openings that will allow them to examine the walls with tiny cameras on flexible tubing to determine hidden problems.
Old pipes in the basement and elsewhere have deteriorated to the point that leaks and sewage smells have become common. Many will be replaced with modern materials that will hold up better over time.
Workers will replace old cloth-covered electrical wires that could pose a fire threat if an electrical overload happens.
The Senate earlier supported a $160 million bond proposal; the House proposal cut the amount by $40 million.
The final plan, House Joint Resolution 1033, also calls for the bonds to be retired in 10 years, saving on interest compared to the costs of a longer duration bond plan.
This bond issue offers a responsible way to rebuild and repair the people’s house. My thanks go out to our legislators for taking action to restore the Capitol.”
Gov. Mary Fallin,