Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a revised and expedited timetable for completing the New York State Capitol restoration project following a review by the new management team at the Office of General Services.
In January, Governor Cuomo began a review of the scope of the project to find efficiencies that would allow the work to be completed ahead of schedule and under budget. The construction project has been proceeding for an extended period at significant cost and has posed operational delays and aesthetic issues for the historic Capitol, which is traditionally a sightseeing and tourist destination.
The new plan will accelerate the timetable on substantial portions of the restoration by two and a half years with a new deadline for the bulk of the exterior work to be completed by the end of this year. The interior work, primarily on the Senate staircase, will be accelerated by almost two years to October 2012. Originally, the entire 14 year restoration project was scheduled for completion in July 2014 at a cost of $48.7 million. This new plan reduces the project costs by $2.3 million.
"This accelerated timeline for the Capitol renovations is an example of the kind of change we seek for state government: to work faster, better, smarter, and more efficiently," Governor Cuomo said. "This is not just about repairing a leaky roof. It is about restoring the pride we feel in government. I thank the team at OGS for working to find efficiencies in this process. I am confident that the restoration will be done expeditiously and with the level of care a historic building of this magnitude deserves."
The Capitol restoration project commenced in 2000 at an anticipated cost of $48.7 million. The current fourth and final phase focuses on repairing the roof and reopening two skylights above the Senate and Assembly staircases.
The new management team of OGS, led by Executive Deputy Commissioner Joseph Rabito, undertook the review with assistance from Peter Lehrer, a noted construction expert working on a pro bono basis.
"I am honored to work with Governor Cuomo to move quickly to preserve and restore New York's State Capitol," Peter Lehrer said. "There is no reason that public sector projects cannot be run with the same efficiency as those in the private sector, and we will keep that lesson in mind as we move forward. We will work diligently, smartly, and with the utmost care to meet the Governor's accelerated timetable and return the Capitol to its original condition."
Peter Lehrer's work includes cultural and educational institutions, hospitals, commercial and residential buildings, and major transportation hubs. Significant projects include the restorations of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Grand Central Terminal as well as the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The Capitol's existing tower roofs are over 120 years old and have well exceeded their expected lifespan. They continue to leak, causing damage to the building and many are cracked making them at risk of falling onto the sidewalk below. The terra cotta pieces must be removed and replaced with identical units. The new roof is expected to last for at least 100 years. Phase 4 also includes asbestos abatement, the installation of smoke detectors and emergency lighting on the Senate and Assembly staircases, ADA-compliant restrooms, and other modifications that bring the Capitol up to contemporary building codes.
The skylights will be restored to look how they did in the 1880's, allowing natural light to fill the staircases.
The steps Governor Cuomo is taking to accelerate completion and cut the costs to taxpayers include:
- Doubling the workforce and increasing the number of shifts as needed
- Bringing in more equipment, including an additional crane
- Simultaneous instead of sequential work
- Giving workers increased roof access on the 5th floor
- Shortening the bureaucratic review process
- Removing non-essential work from the project
By implementing these changes the following will be achieved:
- Substantial completion of the roof by December 31, 2011
- Most visible exterior scaffolding removed by December 31, 2011
- Most public spaces open by December 2011
- Site landscaping in West Capitol Park completed in Spring 2012
- Tower crane removed by Fall of 2012
- Enhanced visitor experience for the public
- Reduced cost to taxpayers
While the bulk of the roof work will be completed this year, the final elements of the project will require the sporadic use of a temporary crane on State Street in 2012.
"Governor Cuomo is to be commended for his administration's continued commitment to returning the New York State Capitol to the people," Matthew Bender IV, Chairman, New York State Commission on the Restoration of the Capitol said. "The Commission could not be more supportive of the accelerated restoration schedule and will do whatever we can to support the project."
The Governor thanked project contractor Anthony Consigli for working with his team during this review and for agreeing to the expedited schedule.