Capitol Hill Buzz: Dome project completed in time for Trump

Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, to announce the successful completion of the U.S. Capitol Dome Restoration Project. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, to announce the successful completion of the U.S. Capitol Dome Restoration Project. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional officials have unveiled a refurbished Capitol Dome after a three-year, $60 million repair project completed with weeks to spare before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Scaffolding that enveloped the dome is gone and more than 1,300 cracks in the cast iron structure have been repaired. The iconic symbol of the Capitol and a 240-year experiment in democracy has been coated by more than 1,200 gallons of paint.

The 29-story, 9 million pound dome, dates to the Civil War and had become badly corroded since it was last restored during the Eisenhower administration. Giant netting was installed in the Rotunda to protect visitors to the Capitol. Some 52 miles of pipe were used to erect scaffolding that enveloped the dome for two years.

Last year, Trump himself 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, Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers announced on Tuesday the project was complete.

“Our work revealed and preserved exquisite craftsmanship that went into the construction of the Dome. We removed hazardous materials, upgraded electrical and mechanical systems and finally, repainted the Rotunda and the Dome,” said Ayers.