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Infrastructure in the Michigan State Capitol building is falling apart

michigan state capitol building in lansing, mi
Lester Graham
/
Michigan Radio
Michigan State Capitol

The state's 138-year-old state Capitol building needs $62 million in urgent repairs to its infrastructure, according to the Capitol Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the building and the grounds.

Chairman Gary Randall says there was a big effort to fix the building in the 1980's and 1990's.

"But most of our attention through that time was paid to the interior," says Randall.  "The decorative painting, and the exterior and the dome. No one ever really took a close look at the infrastructure -- the heating, the cooling, and the water system. It was out of sight and out of mind."

Randall says a study three years ago looked at the building in its totality. 

"As we got into the bowels of the Capitol, we found some pretty alarming things," says Randall.  "Some of the sewer lines - they identified holes in the cast iron pipe where cockroaches were nesting. Yeah, it was bad."

Randall says the repairs could, however, over time save the Capitol up to $250,000 of the $800,000 it spends on utilities for the building every year, especially if a geothermal system replaces the old steam heat system.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story was incorrect in describing the age of the state capitol building. The story has been corrected.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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