New Bill Looks To Secure Funding For Needed Capitol Repairs

Thursday, February 28th 2013, 10:30 pm
By: News 9

Funding options for our crumbling state capitol are once again a topic of discussion. A bill to liquidize "under-utilized" assets to make repairs to the state house, and other government buildings, just passed out of committee.

It's been a couple of years now since yellow barricades have blocked the south steps of the capitol. Scaffolding also remains in place to protect against limestone literally falling off the building. News 9 took a closer look behind the scenes to see what's behind the crumbling capitol.

"What you're holding in your hand, that's crumbling capitol," said Capitol Maintenance Administrator, Doug Kellogg.

5/24/2012 Related Story: Senate Leader Urging $20M For Oklahoma Capitol Fix

The chunks of limestone has fallen off the capitol over a number of years. The problem, Kellogg says, is water has made its way behind the stone, corroding the rebar that holds it to the building.

"They get wet and they swell and then when they rust and swell, then pops off pieces of stone," said Kellogg.

The capitol's basement floor cracks even as you walk. At one point, Kellogg says it was a dirt floor. He gave us a better look at some of the most decayed areas. The underbelly of the building really has a telling story, some of the pipes are more than 90 years old.  

"Sometimes you'll have water dripping out of the socket like that," said Kellogg, pointing to the ceiling. "Well, you know walls just don't drip like that normally. We've got these kinds of issues, lots of locations."

"The model for infrastructure repairs here in Oklahoma had been neglect, neglect, neglect, until it decays behind you," said Rep. T.W. Shannon's spokesperson, Joe Griffin.  

Last year, house members voted down a $200-million bond to fix the capitol. Griffin says money from liquidated assets will help with much needed repairs, not just at the capitol, but other crumbling government buildings.

9/25/2012 Related Story: OK Lawmakers Meet To Talk About Needed Capitol Building Repairs

"It's time to do something," said Kellogg. "I really hope something can get done."  

There's also a theory, that since the dome was added to the capitol in 2002, it may be adding stress to the building causing further damage. Kellogg says that hasn't been proven.  

Shannon's bill to use liquidated assets will eventually be heard on the House floor.