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Orange fencing and a pallet of construction materials outside the Capitol signal the first stages of preparation for the almost $60 million Dome restoration project.
Tiny wooden stakes dot the northern end of the West Front, plotting out the perimeter of the staging area where equipment and supplies are being assembled. It’s one of the earliest glimpses of progress on the dramatic two-year project, set to envelop the central focal point of the campus in scaffolding this spring.
The Capitol Hill community is just beginning to notice movement on the staging area for the project, but behind-the-scenes work has been ongoing for several weeks. In early January, the Architect of the Capitol shared a route for delivery trucks to begin dropping off construction materials. The deliveries occur between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Eventually, the laydown area will look “very similar to what was there for the Dome Skirt project” executed in the spring of 2012, AOC spokesman Justin Kieffer said in an email.
For that $19 million project, workers assembled a large, vertical scaffold tower on the West Front grounds. Then, a second scaffold tower was erected at the terrace level, and the two were connected by a bridge. Installation of the scaffolding on the outside of the Dome will begin at what AOC calls the “boiler plate,” or base, of the Dome, then proceed up the lower columns, eventually reaching the base of the Statue of Freedom.
Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers recently announced that the first signs of construction inside the Capitol will appear in March. Beginning April 12, the Rotunda will close for a 17-day period to allow for installation of a protective canopy.
During that time, the Capitol Visitor Center will implement an alternate tour route. The normal tour route is expected to resume on April 29.