Questions remain about Capitol plans

Idaho StatesmanJanuary 31, 2007 

Idaho officials don't yet know how much a scaled-back Statehouse expansion will cost or even whether it will save money in the long run.

But the standoff and ensuing compromise between Gov. Butch Otter and Republican lawmakers "most likely" will lengthen the expansion and renovation of the Statehouse an extra year, the project manager said Tuesday.

The Idaho Capitol Commission, a citizens panel charged by law to oversee the project, endorsed Otter's deal but with some reservations — and a demand to see how much money has been spent on the old plan and how much the new plan could cost, especially if it takes months or years longer.

Even if the redesign of the wings isn't finished, the renovation work still has to start April 1, said project manager Jan Frew of the state Public Works Division, because it will take many months to restore the marble, scagliola columns and plaster in the 100-year-old building. Building one-story wings instead of the original two-story ones will require a new kind of foundation and perhaps new construction processes, Frew said. And floor plans for at least some of the Statehouse will have to be revised again.

If the schedule is thrown off, as Frew expects it may be, the Legislature will spend the 2008, 2009 and 2010 sessions in the old Ada County Courthouse, where there is no space for the public to view the House and Senate chambers.

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