Contract for State House renovation to be awarded in 2019

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TRENTON -

New Jersey Building Authority executive director Ray Arcario says that a big contract to renovate the New Jersey State House is expected to be awarded in early 2019.

Arcario, along with state Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio, led reporters on a tour of the over 200-year-old building’s renovations progress Thursday. It has been about a year since the project began.

“It looks like it is in worse condition. Eventually, come January [or] February when we award the contract, we'll make that turn and start restoring and renovating what you see,” Arcario says.

Crews have been working to expose the original parts of the building that date back to the 1790s, when the building opened.

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The demolition work has revealed 18th century beams and uncovered giant skylight-like elements that will be restored where possible.

“I would say we have definitely come across things that were unexpected, in that we didn’t know exactly what was going to be behind the walls,” says Arcario. “I haven’t found any pirate’s gold yet either, but we keep looking.”

The Building Authority says that the renovations were necessary because the State House was in a state of decay due to water infiltration and the lack of a HVAC system. The building will also need new electrical and plumbing work and its foundation will need underpinning.

The renovations are expected to cost $283 million – which is has become quite controversial. Opponents say that funding was approved by the Christie administration quickly and in the shadows.

Gov. Phil Murphy criticized the project during the 2017 gubernatorial campaign, but his state treasurer says that the funding is already set.

“This is what the funding in this project is going to be used for and it clearly is needed,” Muoio says. “But that is not to say that there aren’t other very worthy causes in the state.”

Officials say that the renovations are about 15 to 20 percent complete. It is expected that the State House will reopen in 2022.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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