June 21, 2018
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State House dome will likely be repaired

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
The State House in Augusta, as seen Monday, March 11, 2013.
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — A $1.2 million resurfacing of the dome atop the State House will likely move forward after a reconsideration of the project Thursday by legislative leaders.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport, had objected to the cost of the project when it was first considered by the Legislative Council last month. He asked that the project be reconsidered by the council’s facilities subcommittee, which is where the issue landed Thursday.

“I have a clearer understanding of the conduction of the copper roof,” said Thibodeau, who had asked the council to seek cheaper and shorter-term alternatives before moving ahead with what would be a months-long process. “I can see that we don’t have any other options.”

Consultants have told state officials that the dome, which was added to the State House in 1909, is nearly 30 years past its life expectancy. It is pockmarked with dents from long-ago hailstorms, scarred with numerous patch jobs and over the years has become thinner and thinner due to corrosion. David Boulter, executive director of the Legislative Council, has said letting the problem linger longer would put the dome’s understructure at risk, which could lead to damages far in excess of the estimated $1.2 million it will cost to replace the copper sheathing.

Boulter has said the cost of the project can be covered within the State House’s normal maintenance fund.

The project will require the building of a huge web of scaffolding around the dome, which Boulter expects would start next March if approved by the full Legislative Council.

Though the project calls for the dome to be rebuilt exactly as it is today, the dome’s color would switch from the current green to brown and change back to green over the course of decades as the copper oxidizes.

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