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Ongoing repairs to West Virginia Capitol dome create new limits for building's capacity

The ongoing repairs to the West Virginia State Capitol dome are taking up a large space around the Rotunda on both levels. (WCHS/WVAH)

The ongoing repairs to the West Virginia State Capitol dome are taking up a large space around the Rotunda on both levels.

This is limiting the number of people who can safely occupy the building, and the project is far from complete.

After the repair project began, Capitol Police requested an updated safety survey from the state's General Services Division, due to the massive amount of people who visited the Capitol during the 2018 session.

The total capacity for both the upper and lower Rotunda area was about 3,500. With the Rotunda space blocked off for construction, the capacity is much smaller. The survey was based on National Fire Protection Association standards and square footage of the areas affected.

With the entire rotunda walled off, a maximum of 602 people are now allowed outside the House and Senate chambers. The total is about 1,000 fewer people than before construction started. The lower level is limited to 1,062 people.

Capitol Police will use the public entry points to keep track of the number of people coming into the building.

The Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said there is an updated evacuation plan for the hundreds of people who work in this building and visit it daily. In an emergency, the floor captains would lead everyone through an evacuation.

The repairs are expected to continue until the fall of 2020.

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