U.S. Capitol dome set for repairs

WASHINGTON — Visitors to Washington have seen the iconic Washington Monument don a blanket of scaffolding while it undergoes repairs from an earthquake. Soon they will see a similar look at the opposite end of the National Mall.

For about two years the U.S. Capitol dome will be covered with scaffolding while it gets its first complete restoration in more than five decades, starting next month.

The project, budgeted at nearly $60 million, is handled by the Architect of the Capitol, while the National Park Service oversees the Washington Monument repairs just over a mile away.

The dome will still be visible through the scaffolding, giving it a more transparent look than the monument, said Justin Kieffer, an Architect of the Capitol spokesman. And beyond the visual transformation during the repair work, the impact on Congress and visitors is expected to be minimal.

Kieffer said the dome is about 150 years old, “and we’ve been making sure that it’s safe and been conducting small repairs when needed.”

The cast-iron structure is the second dome to sit atop the Capitol. It replaced a smaller and potentially flammable wooden dome when it was built in the mid-1800s.

But the dome has not undergone a complete renovation since 1959-60, and more than 1,000 cracks have made it increasingly unsafe. Fixing the cracks and stopping any leaking are “required to ensure the building can last for another 150 years,” Kieffer said. Another part of the restoration process is removing and replacing ornaments that are at risk of falling.

Public tours will still be conducted through the Capitol during the work, except for a few weeks when a canopy is installed in the rotunda to protect visitors. Tour groups will not go through the rotunda at that time, Kieffer said.

The Architect of the Capitol announced the contractor for the project this week and is working to establish an exact timeline to start and complete the project. TurnerSmoot, a joint venture, was awarded the contract.

More in Local News

A Democrat and ex-Republican team up to end two-party politics

Brian Baird and Chris Vance unveil a new organization called Washington Independents.

The beavers weren’t happy, either, about Mill Creek flooding

A tree fell on their dam, sending a rush of water into a neighborhood near Jackson High School.

Aerospace workers adjust to changing industry

The number of Boeing workers dropped almost 10 percent since last year

Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

Mill Creek councilman no longer lives in city, panel finds

The Canvassing Board determined Sean Kelly is not eligible to vote there.

A whole life ahead. Five-month-old Felix Shope lies in his stroller ready to go home from the Snohomish County Courthouse with his new mom and dad, Alicia and Josh Shope of Edmonds. A family down the hall tends to a child and are likely awaiting their own adoption proceedings. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
16 youngsters get the gift of home on National Adoption Day

A joyful day at county courthouse tempered with the great need for stable, loving homes.

Stranger offered candy to student walking home from school

The Granite Falls School District is warning families about… Continue reading

Man arrested after stolen car crashes in Everett

The accident occurred in the 100 block of SE Everett Mall Way.

5-vehicle crash in Arlington kills 62-year-old woman

Medics had transported her to the hospital, where she later died.

Most Read