MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

July 15, 2014

Capitol repair work to precede bond issue

State to study what fixes are needed first

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Authorities preparing for the renovation of Oklahoma’s nearly century-old state Capitol plan to authorize preliminary design work before millions of dollars in bond money authorized by the Legislature becomes available, officials said Monday.

John Estus, spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said authorities may tap a construction fund that contains about $700,000 to pay for an investigation of the building’s exterior to determine what repairs are immediately needed to areas where chunks of limestone and mortar have fallen from the building’s facade.

“You can walk around the perimeter of this building any day and find pieces,” Estus said. “We’ve had pieces as small as a BB to as large as a football fall from this building.”

Since 2011, barricades have cordoned off the south side of the Capitol to prevent pedestrians from approaching areas where chunks of limestone have fallen. Visitors must walk beneath scaffolding topped with plywood to reach an entranceway on the building’s southeast corner.

“We have a safety hazard,” Estus said. “We’ve noticed that it’s getting worse.”

The Legislature has authorized a $120 million bond issue to renovate the Capitol, including repairing rusting metal clips that hold giant exterior limestone panels in place.

Legislation authorizing the bond issue will not go into effect until Aug. 22, 90 days after the Legislature adjourned, said Jim Joseph, the state’s bond adviser.

“We can’t do anything until the bill becomes effective,” Joseph said. Even when it does, Estus said, it will take until at least October for the bond money to become available.

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