Capitol Renovation Reaches Its Most Dangerous Phase

Capitol Renovation Reaches Its Most Dangerous Phase

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Richard Piatt ReportingConstruction crews at the state capitol reached a milestone today. They installed the first of hundreds of base isolation units, a key part of minimizing the effects of an earthquake on the building.

When most of us see the Capitol we see the scaffolding around the dome; we know it’s under construction. But most of the real work is happening at the base and underneath, where tens of millions of tons sits.

A cable attached to an old, four-ton footing under the State Capitol. It's out with the old and in with the new. A two-ton base-isolator is carefully placed at it's new home. The unit is a rubber-and steel sandwich with a steel core--the first of 265 similar units that will help the state capitol withstand an earthquake.

The isolator is bolted into place. A concrete footing will be poured under it. It is a major step in the Capitol renovation project.

Jerod Johnson, Project Engineer: "That's a milestone that marks two years of design between the engineer and the contractor."

The purpose is to protect the capitol from the damaging effects of an earthquake. If the work isn't done, the Capitol building will shake in multiple directions during a quake. With the isolators in place, the building will instead roll back and forth, reducing the damage.

David Marshall, Project Superintendent: "We want to build this building to protect it against an earthquake up to a 7,3 on the richter. The building could have taken up to a five."

Work is continuing every day to temporarily shift millions of tons. The isolators will eventually support that weight. In the meantime, the state capitol is literally a shell of its former self, eventually to be restored to its original splendor.

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