Gov. Butch Otter has issued a stop-work order on the the capitol renovation project, including the construction of underground "wings." His office confirmed this afternoon that the construction contract includes a five-day notice provision to stop work, and Otter issued that five-day notice today. “The governor did ask them to stop work,” said his press secretary, Jon Hanian. “Discussions with the Legislature are ongoing as to the future of the project.”
Otter didn’t mention the Statehouse renovation project in his State of the State address, but he tucked an item into his budget calling for proceeding with the renovation but not the addition of two underground “wings” designed to add public meeting and office space to the historic building, and to instead “hold in abeyance” the wings idea. The change would move the annual bond payments down from $20.1 million to $17.6 million, according to Otter’s budget. Lawmakers who debated for seven years before settling on the “wings” approach haven’t been happy about Otter’s proposal, and some have suggested it could cost the state more money than just proceeding with the plan that’s already in place.
Construction fences went up all around the capitol within the past two days, to allow for site preparation for the excavation required for the new wings. “They had to begin to keep the project on schedule,” said Gary Daniel, communications coordinator for the state Capitol Commission. But heavy equipment that had been working outside the capitol has stopped, and now there’s nary a worker around.