Making the Capitol new again
Topeka Lawmakers on Monday defended the over-budget and behind-schedule restoration of the Capitol.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, said that after recently seeing disrepair at the Massachusetts Capitol in Boston, he was glad Kansas was refurbishing its historic Statehouse.
"That reaffirmed my support of what we are doing here and how we are proceeding with it," Hensley said.
Restoring, renovating and adding to the Kansas Capitol is now pegged at $172.5 million, and climbing. Some of the project hasn't been bid yet.
When first envisioned in 2000, cost projections were $90 million to $120 million.
But Statehouse architect Barry Greis said costs have been justified.
The initial cost range didn't include a $15 million underground parking garage added by the Legislature. In addition, Greis said, the first estimates weren't based on actual construction drawings and bids, and didn't take into account skyrocketing costs for construction materials.
Also, the Legislature's decision to keep the building operating during the renovation has added to the cost and length of the project, he said.
"What you have to look to is what decisions have been made over the past seven years by the Legislature," Greis said.
Renovation of the west wing, which includes the House chamber, is expected to be finished in December, the halfway point of the 10-year renovation.
Greis gave an update to legislative leaders on the project Monday. While some lawmakers grumbled about its cost, none expressed disappointment after hearing the report.