Capitol Complex renovation begins, will last through 2020

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JEFFERSON CITY - Locals say they are used to traffic congestion around the State Capitol, but not to the magnitude and scale of the latest project. A $28 million repair and restoration project began Friday. The construction will shut down part of Capitol Avenue until the anticipated finish date in December 2020. 

Currently, there are signs around the capitol alerting drivers to the changes. The city has put up signs on the exit ramp that normally leads to the capitol from Highway 63 all the way up to the capitol building itself. 

The state said the construction is necessary.

According to the capitol website, "after more than 100 years of wear & tear, the exterior façade and substructure of the historic Missouri State Capitol Building have suffered significant deterioration."

The Capitol’s first major construction project will "bring the building’s structure back to serviceable condition and address the deteriorating stonework on its facades, dome and drum, which was completed in 1917."

David Bange, city engineer for Jefferson City, said construction will cause back-ups around the capitol, but the streets that are affected are not city property.

"Those are all state-owned property, so the state can kind of do what it wants with the streets," Bange said. "We use them like city streets, and I think the general public thinks of them as city streets, but really, the state needs them for equipment and everything for the renovations, so we are just trying to work with them on that."

Bange said he isn't concerned about Jefferson City residents adjusting to the change.

"These roads have been shut down in the past for events, so residents are used to this kind of thing," Bange said. "However, April and May are the busiest time of the year for visitors, and we find a lot of people are like, 'But my GPS told me to go here!' We are also going to have school groups that are going to be navigating all this construction," Bange said.

While the Capitol Complex construction is happening, Jefferson City is planning its own work on sidewalks and roads in the same area.

"This summer, the city has some renovation plans on the streets people will be using to get around the capitol," Bange said. "They aren't detour streets, per se, but we expect there to be higher traffic on these streets, so that construction timing isn't great either."

In addition to traffic delays, Bange said drivers should expect to walk a little further to get to their destination. Seventy parking spots were removed to make room for construction equipment. Disabled parking is still available, but has been shifted to the north side of the capitol where media parking used to be. 

"We've been working with the state to see what we can do to help these situations," Bange said. "We made sure to give people some advanced warning so we don't have that day after day people piling up right there at the capitol."

Bange said the goal is to direct traffic toward High Street or McCarty Street and have people go around the capitol that way. The capitol has maps and more information on the closures on its website. All construction is expected to be finished by 2020.