Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just in from the Statehouse

Putnam photo
Statehouse Remodel Nearly Completed

Boise--Idaho officials got the keys to the restored Statehouse on Wednesday--on time and under budget.

The massive remodel started back in of April of 2007 when lawmakers voted to renovate and expand the Statehouse. That was back in the good old days when there was money to spend, unemployment stood at three-percent and the Dow peaked at 14,000.

Wednesday, those lucky enough to get invited on the tour marveled at the restored marble, etched glass and the new underground wings that highlight the new and improved Statehouse. Contractors promised to finish under budget and on time, they kept their word even finishing a day ahead of schedule.Crews are still putting last minute touches on the building while movers continue to haul in furniture. Idaho lawmakers will move in two full weeks ahead of the 2010 legislative session.

The Idaho Statehouse is nearly 90 years old and Capitol restoration commissioners say it was the hidden things like plumbing and wiring that needed to be fixed the most and was the most expensive to fix. But the Commission also decided to bring back original features from the 1913 construction and the 1920 expansion.

The rennovation price tag was $120 million -- somehow penny-pinching contractors finished under that projection."There were many people who said it couldn't get done and if you really think about it, in this day and age to do a project this size in a two-year period and of that magnitude the cost, it is a huge cost, but they did come in on time and budget and I think all taxpayers will be pleased with the work that is done and they will be anxious to see it in January," said Sandy Patano, Capitol restoration commissioner.

When the Statehouse is dedicated in December the public will see drastic changes but none greater than the 50,000 square-foot underground wings. The wings bring additional floor space for committee meetings, now the public can come to committee meetings and testify in comfort. The Statehouse now boats a grand total of 251,000 square-feet.

In two weeks, the governor's office will move out of the Borah building a block away into their plush, new digs. Movers should complete the move by December 4th. All departments should be back in the Statehouse by the start of the 2010 legislative session on Jan. 11. The Capitol Commission is preparing a rededication ceremony and inviting the public to view the Capitol next month.

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