Salemites will again have easy access to the Oregon State Capitol ahead of the 2023 Legislative Session after five years of construction.
The building’s south entrance on State Street reopened to the public on Monday, the Oregon Legislature announced in a news release.
The opening preserves access to the building when the main revolving door entrance on Court Street is closed due to ongoing construction. The central section of the Capitol closed in July and isn’t expected to reopen until January 2025 as the building continues to undergo seismic and accessibility improvements.
Accessible entrances are also open for the west wing on the House of Representatives side and the east wing on the Senate side.
The opening allows access to hearing rooms A through F on the first floor, which will be used for December Legislative days and the 2023 session, as well as entry to legislative offices and Capitol wings. Public access to the chambers will be limited during the session due to the ongoing construction, according to the Legislature’s statement.
December Legislative days are Dec. 7-9, and the Oregon Legislative Assembly’s long session will begin Jan. 17.
Visitors are allowed in the building’s open areas during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Due to construction related closures, reduced occupancy limits and higher than average foot-traffic, visitors should anticipate some delays or potential wait times to enter the Capitol,” the statement said.
In March, the Legislative Assembly approved the building’s third phase of construction, which includes seismic upgrades to the central section built in 1938 and costs $375 million. The project is expected to cost $505.7 million in total.
Seismic upgrades to the portion of the building completed in 1977, mechanical system upgrades and new accessible entrances at the back of the building are complete.
A 2013 report from the Capitol Master Plan Review Committee found that the Capitol building could collapse during an earthquake, risking the lives of the 235,000 people who visit each year as well as around 400 employees. There are an estimated 1,000 people in the building on any given day.
People can find more information about the construction project online or by calling the Capitol Accessibility, Maintenance and Safety office at 503-986-1744.
Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.
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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.