Plans Coming Together After $120 Million Approved For Capitol Repairs

Monday, June 9th 2014, 7:05 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

For years we have watched the state capitol crumble right in front of our eyes, but finally this year, the legislature approved $120 million in bonds to fix the building.

Oklahomans should see the repairs begin on the outside of the building before the end of the year. However, it will take about a year from now to work out a plan to fix the interior.

A visit to the capitol on Monday proved those repairs can't begin soon enough. The east tunnel of the capitol was closed as water dripped from the ceiling, the floor was flooded, and an odor wafts in the air.

"It does have a musty smell to it, kind of like an old garage that's been closed up," said David Kaul

"There's no shortage of problems in the basement of the capitol," said John Estus, Director of Public Affairs for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, the agency in charge of maintaining the capitol.

Estus says fixing those problems in the basement will be a priority once the interior repairs begin.

"There are a lot of problems with plumbing down there, a lot of mechanical systems down there need replacement, there's a lot of damage to the basement of the building because we've had water coming into the building for decades," said Estus.

Estus says his office estimates it will take 4 to 5 years to make all the repairs depending on who moves out while the work is being done.

"There will have to be some tenants relocated," he says. "We're not sure if the legislature will be one of those tenants. It's obviously a big task to relocate the legislature to have a session elsewhere,"

As far as the east tunnel goes, Estus says they hope to have it back open this week but don't know if there will be enough money to fix it permanently since that would include closing Lincoln Boulevard overhead.

Still the capitol as a whole for the first time in history will get a lot of love top to bottom.

"It's a good gift for its 100 year birthday," says Estus

A committee that includes some legislators will be in charge of planning those interior repairs. The committee must meet for the first time by July 15th and must approve the criteria that will be used to select a contractor by the end of the year.

The committee has until June 30th, 2015 to approve the contractor's project plan and once that is approved work can begin on the interior of the building.