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Delays Finally Over: Florida Capitol Renovation Project Nears Completion

The front doors of the Florida State Capitol might be reopened to the general public this fall as an intensive renovation project to bring the constructing in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act nears completion.

Phase considered one of a $45 million redesign that replaces lots of of steps of a multi-tier plaza that extends from Duval Street up a hill to the Capitol constructing with elevators and ramps might be accomplished this fall.

Visitors will find a way to access the upper plaza of Waller Park and the Capitol’s front doors, closed as a part of a construction site for the past three years, from a walkaway along Pensacola and South Adams streets.

Original plans had called for the complete project to be accomplished three years ago but work on the plaza was delayed when structural defects within the parking garages under the Senate and House office buildings were discovered in 2016 and full completion was pushed to 2024.

The tops of elevators and ramps leading from Duval Street at the north and south ends of Waller Park are shown in this aerial depiction of the redesign of  the Capitol plaza.

Repairs to the garages required removal of seven,300 tons of soil and about 154 trees, shrubs, and rose bushes planted when the Capitol Complex was in-built 1977.

Earlier this summer, one other dozen live oak trees that lined the plaza’s entrance along Duval Street needed to be removed to guard the complex’s underground infrastructure.

A DMS spokesman said the redesign project is currently on budget, but final costs won’t be known until the project is fully accomplished, which is a few yr away.

“That accounts for extra time needed to handle unexpected circumstances reminiscent of excavating exterior dirt and waterproofing the perimeters across the underground garage all the way down to the bottom,” said DMS spokesman Dan Barrow in an email exchange.

An aerial view rendering of the development site shows an open-air two-tier plaza with ramps and elevators on the Duval Street entrance to Waller Park and an upper plaza that features the Great Seal of the state of Florida squarely in front of the Capitol doors, an area where rallies and demonstrations often occur.

The fences installed at the front of the Capitol April 2021 will be coming down by the fall of 2024

Capitol construction:Florida Capitol renovations include outdoor elevators — but dry dolphin fountain for two years

Trees come down:A take a look at before and after Capitol garages claim cover of trees along Duval Street

“We’ve created a design that can express a welcoming and alluring spirit,” said Rodney Lewis of Architects Lewis + Whitlock, a Tallahassee-based firm.

The project installation of elevators and ramps in an area often known as Waller Park is the results of a 2012 settlement to an accessibility lawsuit.

Denny Wood of the Florida Paraplegic Association dropped the suit once the Department of Management Services pledged to finish a radical survey of ADA-compliance needs for the constructing, where 1,500 people work and on average 5,000 people visit day by day during a legislative session.

Wood passed away nine months after he and DMS settled the dispute.

On the time of his passing, then Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantero tweeted he was an “irascible activist for the disabled.”

For the reason that settlement, a number of accessibility issues have been addressed throughout the Capitol Complex, including lower counters to accommodate people in chairs, side access to commodes, and more signage in Braile.

The work outside and to the doorway of the Capitol constructing itself is probably the most visible results of Wood’s court victory.

A construction crew works to construct a barrier around
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