Phase one of capitol renovations nears completion

State legislators, staffers and others doing business at the State Capitol building will soon be able to walk through the main entrance again.

Juneau-based Alaska Commercial Contractors are wrapping up the first phase of renovations, which started at the end of April.

One of the last things left to do for phase one of renovations to Alaska’s State Capitol, completed in 1931, is replace the original granite stairs.

For the past six months, the stairs have been kept in a storage yard in more than 30 pieces. “They’re all tagged and numbered so we know where they go back at,” says project superintendent Ben Musielak.

When Musielak’s crew first took the stairs apart, they found a mess underneath.

“It was mostly supported by brick, 80-year-old brick that wasn’t doing very well. All of that came out and it’s replaced with new concrete,” he explains.

The top sections of the stairs are back in place and Musielak says the rest will be in by the end of the week.

Alaska Commercial Contractors also removed fill from under the building and replaced a majority of the plumbing and drainage system.

Juneau residents may also notice the building’s four columns are once again fully exposed. Supportive braces installed last year were recently taken off.

“Those are the original marble columns. We cored out the center of them, took a four inch hole all the way to the bottom, and then grouted in some seismic reinforcement. In the event of an earthquake or any seismic activity, they in theory will stay there. This whole time, for the last 80 some years, they’ve just been stacked up there with nothing really holding them together,” says Musielak.

The portico above the columns, which used to be sandstone, is now concrete. The iconic ‘Alaska State Capitol’ sign that adorned the front of the portico will not be returning in this phase of the project. Musielak says it may be another few years until that goes back up.

The budget for the first phase of renovations was $1.7 million.

Musielak says the main entrance of the capitol should be open by the end of the month.

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