Legislature OKs $5.8 million in Capitol repairs

Capitol crumbling

Capitol bricks

April 3, 2014

A ridge of crumbling masonry near the top of Alaska’s Capitol, April 3, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

Detail of brick façade exposed during renovation of Alaska’s Capitol, April 3, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

Much of the second phase of repairs and renovations will be focused on the Main Street-facing side of the Capitol. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

The legislature has approved $5.8 million in additional repairs and renovations to the Capitol building.


“Go forth, fix the Capitol,”said Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage. He chairs the Legislative Council, which authorized a contract with Dawson Construction on Thursday. The council manages the legislature’s in-house administration.

This is the second phase of the project. The need for major repairs of the facade and earthquake retrofits has been well documented, punctuated by occasional chunk of falling masonry. Building manager Jeff Goodell recently took some time to preempt a potential drizzle of stonework on 60 of the building’s most important tenants; legislators lined up out front for a group photo Wednesday.

“Our building manager spent the weekend taking loose chunks of concrete off the parapets that were so loose, that they had a very real chance of falling and hitting someone while we were taking that picture,” Hawker said.

Outside the Capitol, Goodell points out where he’d worked along a lip of crumbling brick near the roof. He says masons recently told him the pace of deterioration is shifting.

“You know, this golden girl is 83 years old. It took a long time to get to this point, but now, things really get accelerated,” Goodell says.

Deteriorating masonry scraped off the facade of the Capitol by building manager Jeff Goodell. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Deteriorating masonry scraped off the facade of the Capitol by building manager Jeff Goodell. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

In the Capitol’s maintenance section, Goodell pulls out a 5-gallon bucket and cardboard box filled with crumbly bits and chunks of masonry.

“There are big parts down in here. Of course, this is just little stuff you’re seeing at the top. But there’s big stuff in there,” Goodell says.

He’s keeping it “as evidence.”

“This is for people to see, to know that we’re not monkeying around,” Goodell says.

Workers completed the first phase of Capitol repairs and renovations last fall. That phase included repairing the granite front steps, reinforcing the marble columns, replacing the plumbing and draining systems and cleaning up the crawlspace beneath the building.

With the contract approval, work will resume this summer.

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