CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Capitol is undergoing the equivalent of an MRI before state legislators can decide what and how much to spend on renovation of the historic building.

The Select Committee on Legislative Facilities on Thursday received updates on the years-long process of renovating the Capitol. Lawmakers have set aside $103 million for the project but have no estimates for the cost. Earlier estimates ranged from $50 million to $80 million.

One activity currently underway by consultant GBG is a set of building-condition drawings created by laser scanning, architectural photogrammetry and other techniques, according to a report to the committee. The product is a three-dimensional model of the building’s interior and exterior.

Beginning Monday and running through June 7, teams from consultant Vertical Access will continue to assess the Capitol.

On Monday through Thursday, a crew from Vertical Access will perform an assessment of the Capitol dome.

The lead planning, design and preservation architects, PDP, will be on site next week to perform an inspection of the exterior.

That will be followed by the equivalent of an MRI of the

exterior, the report said.

These studies are needed to determine the structural and other needs of the building before the Legislature is asked to pay for design and construction in next year’s budget session, legislators said.

Lawmakers intend to set up a website to keep the public informed about the stages of the project. They say the

inspections and the activity in and around the Capitol have led state officials to begin asking when their agencies will have to temporarily move because of reconstruction.

This is the first stage of assessment, and the relocation is two years off, committee co-chairman Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, said.

“We want people to know,” state Senate President Tony Ross, R-Cheyenne, said. “And when they see people on the roof and rappelling down from the dome, they ought to have a sense that we’re in the midst of the reconnaissance stage.”

One option for the reconstruction mentioned Thursday is to expand the Capitol Building into the current walkway that leads to the Herschler Building. That expansion would significantly increase costs.

Two Cheyenne residents presented recommendations for the project Thursday morning.

Pete Laybourn, a civic activist and resident of the neighborhood surrounding the Capitol complex, suggested the project include upgrading the landscaping and grounds of the entire complex, incorporating recommendations from the state’s 2003 master plan.

Marguerite Herman, representing the League of Women Voters, commended the lawmakers for their remarks on the need for transparency in government.

In that vein, it would be a good time to incorporate electronic voting in the House and Senate while the building is opened for renovation, Herman said.

The legislative facilities panel didn’t act on that recommendation Thursday, but it voted to advance a project that could lead to gavel-to-gavel television coverage of the Legislature on Wyoming Public Television.

The project is called Wyo-Span, and the committee decided to consider adding to the Capitol renovation the hardwire technology needed for it.

All of the states surrounding Wyoming have access to streaming legislative coverage, and some also have access to committee meetings.

“This is high priority for us — accessibility. This is to be part of the big plan,” House Speaker Pro Tem Rosie Berger, R-Sheridan, said.

Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or joan.barron@trib.com

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