WASHINGTON — A massive three-year project to restore the U.S. Capitol dome came to an end Tuesday, with project leaders announcing they successfully finished all their work.
“This project was the first complete restoration of the dome in more than half a century,” said Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers. “We repaired more than 1,300 cracks and deficiencies in the cast iron.” The project cost $60 million.
Scaffolding surrounded the 150-year-old dome for much of the time, as workers removed old paint, repainted the dome and the rotunda, repaired and recast intricate ornaments and upgraded electrical and mechanical systems.
The dome was coated in more than 1,200 gallons of paint and surrounded by some 52 miles of pipe for scaffolding.
At 29 stories high, it is the tallest cast-iron dome in the world. The last significant renovation happened in 1959, during the Eisenhower administration.
“The dome was in dire need of repair,” said Ayers. “Our work revealed and preserved the exquisite craftsmanship that went into the construction of this great dome.”
Calling the structure the “nation’s stage,” Ayers said he is proud of the team that worked day and night, through snow storms and hot summer weather to get everything done before the presidential inauguration in January.
Last year, President-elect Donald Trump pointed to the dome project as an example of what was wrong with Washington, saying the scaffolding would be removed for the 2017 inauguration and put back up to finish a repair project that was behind schedule and wasteful. Instead, Ayers announced on Tuesday the project was complete.