Topeka Kansas is preparing to replace the copper roof and dome of its Statehouse, an addition to an ongoing renovation of the building that has pushed the project's projected cost to $319 million.
Fourteen companies have applied for permission to bid on the roof and dome work, and only one is headquartered in Kansas, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The work is expected to cost more than $21 million, and state legislators authorized bonds to cover the expenditure earlier this year.
The project has received intense criticism over projected costs that are more than triple some early estimates and that still don't include completion of a basement visitor's center or new landscaping for grounds scarred by construction work. But results often have been impressive, with offices, committee rooms and hallways returning to rich colors and ornate patterns of decades past.
The state hadn't initially planned to replace the aging copper on the roof and dome and was repairing leaks, cracks and brittle joints. Legislators rethought that decision after water from melting snow in January leaked into the House chamber.
Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican, said it made sense to go ahead and replace the roof with a giant construction crane already in place for other work.
"After going through the restoration, we realized there was a lot of work that needed to be done there," said Morris, a Hugoton Republican.
The only Kansas firm hoping to bid on the work is Stevenson Co., of Topeka. Another firm, the Garland Co., lists a Lawrence office, but it said it has only a single sales representative there. Only Stevenson has been involved in work on the Statehouse previously.
We try and accept participation from any contractor, local or national, that has the qualifications to do the work," said Jim Rinner, project manager for JE Dunn Construction, the Kansas City, Mo., firm overseeing the renovation. "So much of the work we're doing on the Statehouse is very specialized, so we have to go far and wide to find people, and the goal is to have the highest quality and the best cost throughout."
The Statehouse renovation started in 2001 and interior work is scheduled to finish in fall 2012, with the rotunda and north wing sealed off behind drywall this year as work has concentrated there. The state expects replacement of the roof and dome to be finished in 2013.
The project is giving the Statehouse modern heating, air conditioning, water and fire safety systems; providing better rooms for meetings to make them more accessible to the public and giving legislators less-cramped office space.
Early estimates put the cost of the entire renovation at between $90 million and $120 million, though that was before legislative leaders added an underground parking garage and approved an expansion of the basement for new offices. The state also discovered unexpected needs for repairing the exterior stone.
Morris said the renovations wouldn't be complete without a new copper dome, which will start out shiny like a penny, then quickly turn to a "rich brown" before fading into its familiar green hue over several decades.
"It will be a very beautiful dome, and people will be pleased," Morris said.