Cost for Alaska Capitol work more than expected

JUNEAU — State lawmakers approved about $43,000 in cost overruns Wednesday for the first phase of work to reinforce and renovate the state Capitol building.

Alaska Commercial Contractors Inc. won the contract for the project, which had a budget of $1.7 million.

Architect Wayne Jensen told the Legislative Council in Anchorage that built-in contingencies didn’t cover all the costs for work needed to complete the phase.

The Capitol was built in 1931, and there were obvious signs of wear before the renovation began, including cracked brick on the sides, crumbling sandstone on the base and water stains.

The project called for a seismic retrofit and renovation, including structural work to reinforce the portico, cleaning the crawl space and repairing the structure under the ground floor. Rep. Mike Hawker, the committee’s chair, said he was shocked to see how deteriorated things were under the building, likening it to walking through ruins.

Work began after the legislative session ended this year, and a temporary entrance had been used for months during construction, which at one point included removing the front entry stairs and columns.

The front entrance was scheduled to be open again as early as Thursday.

Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, called the overrun “minuscule.” He said crews did a good job, considering they didn’t know what they would find when they began.

Rep. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, questioned why lawmakers learned of the overrun once the project was done, instead of along the way.

Hawker, R-Anchorage, said he was regularly briefed on the project and Wednesday’s meeting constituted the request for change order coming before legislators.

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