CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Late 2020 is the revised estimated completion date for more than $13 million in structural and refurbishing work on the West Virginia State Capitol Dome, a delay from the original early 2020 date that follows the discovery of additional repair needs.
Allan McVey, secretary for the state Department of Administration, said the extra time is needed to ensure the renovations are done properly.
“I think this has been shown that the citizens of West Virginia want us to make sure that we have a beautiful building for them to visit and come to and, going forward, that’s safe for everyone,” he said.
“That’s our goal and we’ll do that to the best of our ability.”
The dome work started in January 2018 under the original contractor, Wiseman Construction, after the discovery of structural issues largely due to water damage.
State officials said pipes designed to collect water from the outer dome had deteriorated which caused damage to the interior of the Capitol Rotunda in visible and not visible ways creating safety hazards.
Additionally, officials determined a cabling system which allowed the outer dome to hold up the inner dome with tension had weakened and needed replaced.
“Had we not taken the steps that we’ve done, at some point, yeah, it would have disintegrated,” McVey said. “But we’re not going to let this iconic, historic building get in that condition.”
Currently, scaffolding is in the process of going up around the outside dome at the State Capitol as repair work enters its next phase.
The contractor, Pullman Power, has been erecting a self-supported scaffolding system which is not anchored into the dome’s surface. Within the next couple of months, that scaffolding should be fully enclosed.
It was 2005 when the dome was last covered for repainting work.
This time, dome work was delayed because the original contractor could not meet the freestanding requirement within the state contract.
Outside, the project includes drain pipe replacement and gutter system updates.
Limestone cornices located directly under the dome, weighing an estimated 2,300 pounds each, will be removed and cleaned while new flashing is installed underneath their locations to divert water, according to McVey.
“Preventative maintenance is the key for anything that should be done around here,” he said.
“Right now, we have plans to make sure that we use a lot of preventative maintenance in every building that we have, particularly this Capitol building.”
Portions of the gold leaf on the dome will also be regilded, the gray metal cladding recoated and the portal windows reconfigured during the project.
The inside of the Capitol Rotunda remained sealed off to visitors with scaffolding in place starting in the basement.
Along with the structural work, replacements were needed for clay tiles that had been crumbling in the walls of the Capitol Dome and nearby stairwells. That problem was not discovered until after the start of the work.
McVey said the repairs should shore up the structural integrity of the State Capitol Dome for the next 50 years.
“We’re just trying to do the best job we can at the most effective cost,” said McVey.