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You asked: What’s the construction in the Idaho Statehouse rotunda for?

The Idaho State Capitol is getting a touch-up before its halls fill up again for the 2022 Legislative Session.

For the last few months, the rotunda has been filled with the sound of construction while the state replaces the glass with separating panes in the upper reaches of the Capitol’s iconic dome, according to reporting from the Idaho Press the state Department of Administration pointed BoiseDev to. The bottom floor of the capitol is also closed so construction crews could install reinforcements to support the weight of the six-story high scaffolding and other equipment for the complex job.

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It took two weeks to construct the towering scaffolding inside of the building, according to a video posted by the Idaho Association of General Contractors. The bottom of the scaffolding was constructed over a specially designed protection layer to prevent any damage to the mosaic floor on the garden level.

The project will cost the state $550,000, roughly half of the total cost of the project. The rest will be paid for with a cost-sharing agreement between the state and contractors involved in the in litigation after the Capitol was renovated between 2007 and 2009, the Idaho Press reported.

The glass the state will replace has chicken wire embedded inside of it, which was a historic method to create shatterproof glass prior to the invention of safety glass. The panes making up the glass are separating as they age, requiring replacement.

Is the glass dangerous?

The base of the scaffolding work at the statehouse. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

The Idaho Press reported that the separation, called delamination, of the glass panes, is already visible in round circles on some of the glass panels in the dome. However, the Department of Administration Director Keith Reynolds said the biggest potential risk is if the panels fail, they could fall down and crash through the multi-story rotunda.

However, this is not an immediate concern. Reynolds said the project is in “an abundance of caution” and the replacement project is preventative.

All of the panels will be replaced with the traditional historic wired glass, instead of modern safety glass. This is to ensure all of the glass in the rotunda will be the same and to ensure the light coming in from all sides looks the same to preserve the current look of the iconic building.

The entire capitol will remain open during the construction, but a temporary wall will be constructed around the rotunda to allow the work to continue while the offices and rooms in either wing will remain accessible. Some areas, like Statuary Hall on the fourth floor and other areas with skylights near the rotunda, will close occasionally through the construction, the Idaho Press reported.

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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