State to renovate House and Senate

Alaska plans to spend $611,000 on chambers

Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2005

The state is planning to spend about $611,000 renovating the state House of Representatives and Senate chambers this summer, according to the Legislative Affairs Agency.

The city of Juneau also is spending $4.6 million on a street and sidewalk reconstruction project that includes areas around the Capitol.

Legislative Affairs director Pam Varni said the chamber upgrades will widen the aisles in both the House and Senate, making them comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

She said the project also will rewire both chambers to allow laptop computers. Rules in the House and Senate forbid computers at lawmakers' desks, but Varni said the wiring project would make them available if rules change.

The project also will replace podiums, press tables and lawmakers' desks in both chambers and make renovations to the kitchen in the legislators' lounge, Varni said.

"The desks are chipped and old," she said. "They've probably been like that since the 1960s."

Varni said the floors and carpeting in both chambers also will be replaced before the session begins in January 2006.

The city of Juneau is repaving streets in front of the Capitol and adding brick sidewalks, according to Karen Blue, a project engineer for the city.

The Seward Street Reconstruction project is not limited to the Capitol area, Blue said. But the project includes raising the street to sidewalk level in front of the Capitol and installing a granite crosswalk leading to Dimond Courthouse. Blue expects the project is to be completed in August.

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