Engineers seek to determine source of water damage to Capitol

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail
A portable scaffolding is high up on the wall of the Capitol rotunda.
KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail
Water damage is visible in this photo on the upper wall of the Capitol Rotunda.

Consulting engineers are continuing to try to pinpoint the source of a water leak that has caused significant damage to one of the panels on the interior dome of the state Capitol.

Last month, the state hired WDP & Associates of Charlottesville, Virginia, a consulting engineering firm that specializes in investigating structural problems, to assess the situation.

“They’re going to finish at the end of the month, and then they’ll put together their findings to General Services, and at that point, we’ll know what we’re looking at,” Department of Administration spokeswoman Diane Holley Brown said Thursday.

After first erecting scaffolding on the roof of the main Capitol to examine the east side of the Capitol dome exterior, WDP employees have installed a suspended scaffold platform inside the Capitol dome to gain access to the damaged panel, on the east side of the interior dome.

Bill Barry, deputy director for the General Services Division, said the water damage appears to be coming from inside the panel.

“We don’t see water coming down the wall, but we see the paint peeling from the wall,” he said.

Initial theories are that the exterior of the dome was damaged from a series of hard freezes and thaws during the unusually cold winter of 2014-15.

For safety purposes, the lower rotunda area, some 200 feet below the damaged panel, has been blocked off while workers use the platform to inspect the damage, Holley Brown said. The platform lowers to an area adjacent to an area known as the well at the upper rotunda.

Although the engineers are expected to complete the inspection by the end of the month, she said, “I’m not sure when we’ll receive the report on their findings.”

Reach Phil Kabler at

philk@wvgazettemail.com,

304 348-1220, or follow

@PhilKabler on Twitter.

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