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Price tag of state Capitol restoration project grows to $307 million

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The cost of restoring the state Capitol has gone up by $34 million after the committee overseeing the restoration of the building approved projects that were not part of the original $272.2 million plan.

The bipartisan Capitol Preservation Commission approved the new cost of the project Wednesday, which also included unforeseen engineering problems with the plan, the Star Tribune reports.

The project will now cost about $307 million.

The committee – which includes Gov. Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, among others – approved increasing the renovation budget to include several additional projects, according to the Pioneer Press.

Among them, reports note:

  • $2.4 million for modifications to Aurora Avenue to turn it into a plaza.
  • $739,000 for additional decorative paintings.
  • $400,000 to re-open the South Loggia – a long-closed balcony that overlooks the Capitol mall.
  • $100,000 for a bus loading plan on Cedar Street South.

The committee also plans to ask the Legislature for roughly $6.2 million to make improvements to security, which would include enhanced lighting or retractable steel poles to block vehicle traffic, reports say. But the committee says it will review this at a later meeting, according to The Associated Press.

The state Legislature will have to find the money to fund these projects, the Star Tribune says.

"These items shouldn't have been viewed as 'out-of-scope'" to project planners, Republican Rep. Paul Torkelson said, the AP notes. "We will have some explaining to do to the public."

Dayton says this renovation only happens once a century, so it's important to do it the best they can, the Star Tribune reports.

The Capitol will be closed to the public once the Legislature adjourns later this month. Only the House chamber is expected to re-open for the 2016 session, while the Senate will meet off site.

The renovation won't be complete until 2017.

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