Missouri's Capitol grounds will become a major construction site beginning March 2.
Until the end of 2020, Chicago-based Bulley & Andrews Masonry Restoration LLC will oversee the $28.69 million restoration of much of the Capitol's exterior stone work, from the top of the dome to the ground 238 feet below, as well as around the east, west and north sides of the building.
"It's going to make this fantastic building safe and water-tight and look beautiful for another hundred years," state Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said Thursday.
Kehoe is vice chair of the Capitol Commission, which is charged by state law "to assure the future preservation, improvement, expansion, renovation, restoration, and integrity of the Capitol and to preserve the historical significance of the Capitol."
The commission has been working with the Office of Administration's Division of Facilities Management, Design and Construction for several years to develop the renovation plan.
"It's exciting - although parts of it will be painful," Kehoe said. "You just don't restore a building this size and magnitude - that's 100 years old - overnight, without experiencing a little bit of pain."
That "pain" will include closing the South Circle Drive to traffic, merging the two traffic lanes on the North Capitol Drive into one, eliminating visitor parking around the building (except for handicapped spaces), surrounding the Capitol with scaffolding, placing several "tower" cranes around the Capitol to reach its high spots, and staging all construction work from the South Lawn.
The project will be done in phases, beginning with moving the construction trailers onto the grounds next Thursday night, said Cathy Brown, head of the Design and Construction division.
The work needs to begin now, she said, "because of the compressed schedule."
The contractor is to be finished in early December 2020, in time to get the Capitol ready for the January 2021 inauguration program.
"If we wait until (May to start the work), we will not make Inauguration," she said.
Dana Miller, a Missouri House clerk who chairs the Capitol Commission, told reporters Thursday: "You get kind of accustomed to seeing the cracks - (the building) is 100 years old. You don't realize the level of deterioration until you get up and take a closer look."
The Capitol has endured a century's worth of changing weather conditions, and the original stone - Carthage marble - is a form of limestone that has cracked and, in some cases, broken because of its exposure to water.
Brown said the work might sound simple but really is "a very complex project, both logistically and in terms of design and construction.
"It also involves stone ordering and fabrication, quarrying it out of the ground and then delivering it on site."
Kehoe noted many of the stone decorations made a century ago will need to be restored or replaced, depending on their condition.
He said officials have been working with a number of agencies, including Jefferson City's police department, to handle the 400,000-500,000 people who visit the Capitol each year - including numerous student groups from throughout the state.