DENVER (AP) — The protective, weatherproof wrap that has covered the Colorado state Capitol dome for almost two years began to come off Thursday as completion of a $17 million restoration project nears.

Construction crews started removing the top portion of the white scrim that has covered the dome to begin revealing the newly gilded gold dome. It’s a process that will take two days, and once it’s completed, scaffolding that has been on the dome will be disassembled during the next six weeks.

Re-gilding the dome is only part of a restoration project that was necessary because Colorado’s intense freeze-thaw cycle caused the exterior metal surfaces to deteriorate during the past 100 years. Cast iron columns that support the dome began to rust, and when a 10 pound piece of iron fell in 2006, it prompted the closure of the dome’s observation deck to visitors.

Although the gold dome will soon be visible, it won’t be open to the public until sometime next summer. That’s because other restoration work is ongoing on the observation deck and the drum structure below the dome.

“If we have done our jobs well, you won’t be able to tell we were there, except the building will be in much better shape than it was before we started,” said Larry Friedberg, the state architect.

The gold for the re-gilding came from the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co., which is owned by AngloGold Ashanti. In March, it was shipped to Florence, Italy, where it was transformed into sheets of gold leaf.

The original gold that was put on the dome more than a century ago was also mined in Colorado.

A total of 75 ounces of gold worth about $120,000 was donated. Only 65 ounces was used to re-gild the dome, and the remaining ounces will be held in reserve for future touch-ups.

The dome restoration project is running on schedule and under its $17 million budget, said Doug Platt, a spokesman with Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration.

High winds in December tore part of the scrim, but didn’t cause major work delays, Platt said.

“That’s the beauty of that scrim, is that it really didn’t cause any significant delays other than to repair the scrim,” he said.

BY IVAN MORENO, Associated Press

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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