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$226 million construction on capitols in Springfield continues

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A helicopter preparing to remove the flagpole atop the Old State Capitol

A helicopter preparing to remove the flagpole atop the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois 

(The Center Square) – A helicopter removed the Old State Capitol flagpole Monday in Springfield as part of renovations to the historic building. Work is also well underway on the Illinois State Capitol with $224 million in planned, taxpayer-funded renovations.

Troy Gilmore is the assistant site superintendent for the State Historic Sites in Springfield.

“You got to see the helicopter come by and remove the existing flagpole on top of the old state capitol and that’s in preparation of a new flagpole,” Gilmore told The Center Square. “We’re going to put up one that’s automated.”

Troy Gilmore, assistant site superintendent for the State Historic Sites, talks about the work done to the Old State Capitol Monday. Last week, Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, explains access during ongoing construction. 

Exterior renovations have been underway for two years at the site where Abraham Lincoln gave his “House Divided” speech and former President Barack Obama separately announced his candidacy for president and his vice presidential pick in Joe Biden.

Gilmore said the flagpole is the final piece after work to repair dome roof leaks and paint and repair windows and columns.

“So, lots of exterior things that have not been done since the 1960s,” he said.

The $2.5 million project is paid for by the Rebuild Illinois capital plan that doubled the state’s gas tax and increased various other taxes and fees.

Down the street in Springfield, visitors to the capitol will find the entire north wing inaccessible with cranes stories high and a large cavity to expand underground parking totaling about $224 million.

Construction being done to the Illinois State Capitol complex in Springfield, Illinois

Construction being done to the Illinois State Capitol complex in Springfield, Illinois 

State senators’ offices have been temporarily moved and official floor action for the next few years is set up in the neighboring Howlett Building on the capitol complex. Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, last week said the public will still have some access.

“While the temporary chamber does not have a gallery, members of the public can still view the Senate’s proceedings,” Harmon said at the open of veto session last week. “There is a public viewing area in the Hall of Flags also located on the first floor of the Howlett Building.”

There are no changes to the Illinois House chambers. When in session, both chambers stream audio and video at ILGA.gov.

“We appreciate all of the work done to make this temporary chamber possible,” Harmon said. “Please bear with us as we work through this very unique situation.”

Originally published on thecentersquare.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.