Lawmakers say Colorado Capitol dome needs repairs
DENVER, Colorado – The rusting dome of the Colorado Capitol needs at least $10 million to $30 million in repairs.
Weather has damaged iron columns, railings and facades on the drum of the mostly cast iron dome. Screw heads are rusted, cracks are evident in some columns with rust-colored water stains, and some sections are starting to move slightly. The wood around windows in the dome is also rotting.
State officials say visitors are in no immediate danger from the deteriorating dome, although workers did put netting around the base of the dome in 2007 after a chunk of cast iron more than a foot long and weighing about 10 pounds fell off.
“I don’t want to say that the sky is falling, but a piece of the dome did fall,” said Lance Shepherd, manager of design and construction for the state architect’s office.
State workers check on the dome’s condition at least once a month, and the state pays an architectural firm $17,000 a year to assess the structure quarterly.
“In the last few months, the degradation of the dome is continuing very rapidly,” the firm said in a report in April. “It is our recommendation that immediate action be taken to remedy the dire conditions of the dome.”
The State Historical Fund, funded by casino revenues, this year approved a $3 million grant for dome repairs if the state raised $8 million on its own. Lawmakers facing a $1.4 billion budget deficit denied the request. The fund rescinded the grant and spent the money on other projects.
Joint Budget Committee member Rep. Don Marostica, R-Loveland, and Rep. Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley, the chairman of the joint Capital Development Committee, said looking for private funds might be the solution.
House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, said it has been difficult to get private donors interested, though.
“People, quite frankly, think that’s a function of government,” he said, “and government should take care of it rather than seeking private help.”
Gov. Bill Ritter said Monday it’s the state’s responsibility to maintain the dome. He spoke at a press conference on estimates that the state’s budget shortfall could hit $838 million over the next three years and acknowledged that, for now, the state didn’t have any extra money for repairs.
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