Scaffolds Up: U.S. Capitol Dome Undergoing 2-Year Renovation

December 25, 2013 - 3:34 AM

Capitol Dome Repair

FILE - This Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, file photo shows the Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington. A world-famous symbol of democracy is going under cover, as workers start a two-year, $60 million renovation of the U.S. Capitol dome. Curved rows of scaffolds, like Saturn’s rings, will encircle it next spring, enabling contractors to strip multiple layers of paint and repair more than 1,000 cracks and broken pieces. The dome will remain illuminated at night and partly visible through the scaffolding and paint-capturing cloths. But the Washington icon -- and portions of the Rotunda’s painted ceiling that lies below -- will be significantly obscured for many months. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A world-famous symbol of democracy is going under cover, as workers start a two-year, $60 million renovation of the U.S. Capitol dome.

Curved rows of scaffolds will encircle the dome like Saturn's rings starting this spring. They will allow contractors to strip paint and repair more than 1,000 cracks and broken cast iron pieces.

The dome will remain illuminated at night and partly visible through the scaffolding.

Repairs to water damage inside will require a partial covering of the huge frescoed ceiling in the Capitol's Rotunda.

Cracks in the 150-year-old dome have allowed water to penetrate for years. The last major renovation was in 1960.

The project is starting just as the nearby Washington Monument sheds scaffolding that was used to repair damage from a 2011 earthquake.