Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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La. can't open its front doors

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BATON ROUGE-  Lawmakers and building maintenance officials maintain the long-lasting closure of the state capitol's main entrance has less to do with state budget problems and more to do with other priorities.

May 16th marks the 84th anniversary of the dedication of the building and a few weeks later, inspectors will start repelling down the sides of the building to look for failures in the facade - the exterior masonry work that has been plagued with problems. Stonework is known to fall from the front of the building, prompting the closure of the front doors.

"I'd love to go all the way up to the front door," a tourist said visiting the capitol Tuesday.

The main entrance has been closed for six months. Visitors have to use a side entrance to avoid concerns parts of the building might fall and hit someone.

"It's very important to get this building back in shape," Sen. John Alario, the Republican Senate President, said. "It's an icon. It's important it's done right."

Weather, officials said, has slowly weakened the exterior of the 34-story building. But, plans to move forward with securing the exterior have been slow. Though, officials blamed a busy schedule - from the inauguration to a special session and the current regular session - as to why more attention hasn't been paid to the problem.

"To have construction going on during that time would interrupt everything," Alario told WBRZ political correspondent Mark Armstrong Tuesday.

Alario and others said once the building is inspected, they'll know how much it will cost to rehab the surfaces of the capitol and move forward with the project.

Inspection crews could start work in July.


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