Donald Trump said it couldn’t be done, but the dome restoration project is officially completed right in time for the president-elect to take the big stage at his inauguration.
Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers was joined by more than 40 workers on Tuesday to announce the end of the project and tout their speedy work, which started in early 2014.
“It’s so important to have this project done by the presidential inauguration,” Ayers said. “As our nation’s stage, it needs to be beautiful and that’s the time everyone across this great country and across the world will be watching.”
In a September 2015 campaign speech in Dallas, Trump said that the dome was behind schedule and workers wouldn’t have enough time to finish the project before Inauguration Day.
“So they’re going to take all of the scaffolding down,” Trump said. “Pay millions of dollars to do that — millions. And then after the inauguration they’re going to put it back up again, and pay millions of dollars more.”
On Tuesday, Ayers said his crew worked through a “blizzard, snowstorm and scorching summer days” to meet the deadline and finish under budget.
“The team used both innovation technology and historic tradecraft to repair the dome,” he said.
Ayers believes that the 288 foot tall dome is the biggest cast iron dome in the world. The last restoration was in 1959.
During the project, workers found reminders of the past, including stamps with the name “Montgomery Meigs,” who supervised the building in 1855, and carving in plaster with the name “Al Ports,” who was an employee.
“We’ve been monitoring the condition of the dome for nearly 15 years now,” Ayers said about the timing of the project.
Starting in the early 1990s, he said, there was a water leak in the Capitol and rust clogs were found. About 200 or 300 cracks or deficiencies were then discovered. Once 1,000 were found, they decided to restore.