by Dale Denwalt
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin welcomed Capitol staff and visitors Wednesday to a newly reopened corridor on the ground floor of the 100-year-old building.
The area, formerly known as the Capitol basement, has been closed while workers gutted and replaced the entire structure.
“(Guests) will now be able to walk through a beautiful space that is deserving of our state government,” Fallin said. “It has brand new marble, columns, beautiful new ceiling, beautiful new paint, back to the original colors of the Capitol.”
The corridor is on the west side of the building and is used mostly by lawmakers, staff, lobbyists and media. The entrance includes an adjacent loading dock for deliveries. When renovations are complete, most visitors will enter on the ground floor from the south near where the public entrance is now.
Capitol Restoration Project Manager Trait Thompson said phase one of the interior restoration, along with the exterior, is on time and on budget.
“This was some of the most difficult space, so if we were going to find a big problem with the budget in terms of an unexpected condition, it probably would have manifested itself here,” Thompson said. “Not to say that won’t happen somewhere else, but we’re pretty relieved that we’ve got some of the big stuff out of the way.”
Work on the outside of the building is scheduled to finish in 2019, and interior construction will continue until 2022. The budget for restoration is set at $245 million, and the project has already cost $63 million.
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