RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Construction work on the State Capitol building will impact access to the public entrance, beginning May 2 and continuing until at least early December, according to an announcement from the Department of General Services and the Clerks of the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia.
The entrance closure will be a result of two renovation projects. The first is a tunnel that will connect the Capitol building with the new General Assembly Building. The second will be a waterproofing renovation to the Capitol Visitor Center.
During the construction of these projects, the visitor’s entrance on Bank Street, as well as the press room, Meriwether cafe and the Visitor’s Center itself, will all be closed.
Visitors will instead use the west entrance to the Capitol — usually reserved for lawmakers, staff and state employees — closest to 9th Street and Grace Street. Individuals in need of accessibility accommodations arriving via a passenger vehicle will be able to call 804-389-5338 for drop-off inside Capitol Square. Due to the ongoing construction and limited turning ability, no other large passenger vehicles will be allowed to enter Capitol Square. Paid parking will be available nearby.
“We’ve tried to minimize any impact to visitors at the Capitol and Capitol Square,” said Dena Potter, Director of Communications for DGS. “The Capitol tours accommodate so many school groups and tour groups throughout the school year and throughout the year, particularly in the summer.”
The waterproofing work is the second phase in a larger project to rectify the building’s water infiltration issues. The first phase — which was completed in 2021 — was replacing the former skylight at the Capitol portico plaza with a new granite compass rose inset and a new lighting fixture inside the Visitor Center.
The second phase will involve temporarily removing the steps to the historic south portico and many of the pavers on the plaza below to replace the roofing and ceiling in those areas. The steps and pavers will be stored on-site until they are returned. New lighting inside the Visitor Center will complement the large lighting feature installed last year. The General Assembly authorized $4.1 million for water-proofing renovations in the 2021 budget.
The tunnel project — which began last year — will involve two sites of construction; one at the Capitol building above the Meriwether cafe and another one at the new General Assembly building. The two tunnels will eventually meet in the middle, completing the project. The project is will cost $25 million.
While the new General Assembly building is expected to open in late 2022, the tunnel to the Capitol will not be complete until late 2023.
“These are complex projects that incorporate renovation, the repair of existing infrastructure, and new construction and require the coordination of various design and construction teams as we make improvements to Virginia’s historic Capitol,” said Joe Damico, DGS Director. “Closing the Capitol’s underground extension is critical to ensure everyone’s safety as we complete these important projects.”