RICHMOND, Va. — The General Assembly Building is reaching another big phase in its renovation. Work will begin next Tuesday on an underground pedestrian tunnel that will connect the new structure to a parking deck across the street.

The General Assembly Building (GAB) was torn down last year to make room for a new one, all while protecting its historic facade from 1912. For months, crews worked to get asbestos out of the building, which was one of the original reasons it had to be taken down.

The tunnel will be 60 feet long, 21 feet wide and 15 feet tall, according to Dena Potter of the Department of General Services (DGS). The roadway won’t be ripped up in the process, but DGS wanted to be cautious and close down the street. 

“At the end of the day, it all comes down to safety. Both for our crews that are working underground and for the people who are walking and driving nearby,” Potter said. “It’s a very busy street, so we worked with [the City of Richmond] to mitigate the traffic impact as much as possible.”

Traffic will be impacted for about a month. Ninth Street will be closed starting Tuesday from E. Grace to Broad Street, drivers will be redirected. Parking spots in this area will also not be able to be used during this time frame. The parking deck that will be connected to the tunnel will have about 500 spots in it for legislative and executive branch employees and lawmakers. The GAB is where lawmakers have their offices and where committee meetings happen, so it’s where a lot of Virginians can get involved with the legislative process. 

In July 2017, lawmakers packed up and moved their offices to the nearby Pocahontas building.

The renovation is one of about a dozen other projects going on in the next two years around Capitol Square, including work being done on Old City Hall which is right next to the GAB. 

“We’ve not national historic landmarks under renovation, we’ve got a lot of things going on and it’s all to help people interact with their government,” Potter said. 

The GAB renovation is set to be finished in late 2021. Designs still need to be finalized. The overall cost for the project won’t be released until it’s complete. That’s because each phase of the project has different contracts, which go out to bid with various companies. 

You can see a timelapse of the project by clicking HERE.

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