The tallest free-standing tower crane in North America â€” which has been used in the stone restoration at the Statehouse â€” is coming down.
The process to take down the Comansa 21 LC 400 tower crane, which has been a familiar sight in downtown Topeka for the past three years, will begin Friday.
â€œWe are currorently erecting a second crane on site, located on the Statehouse grounds immediately east of 9th and Harrison,â€ said Jim Rinner, vice president of JE Dunn Construction Co., which is leading the renovations. â€œIt is the same one used for the installation of the crane.â€
That crane will remove sections of the free-standing tower crane. On Thursday, S.E. 9th and Harrison was closed to traffic. The boom of the crane almost touched the Docking Building.
Counter weights, equipment from the top of the crane and a horizontal section will come down first, Rinner said. The crane should be completely down within a week.
â€œIâ€™m anxious to get it down,â€ Rinner said. â€œIt was a thrill to be able to put it up because itâ€™s such a mammoth structure. It is time for it to come down and surrender the landscape to the Capitol.â€
Parts of the crane were delivered to Topeka starting in August 2010. It was up and operational by September.
The crane helped complete the stone restoration, which included Dutchman repairs, hand carving, stone stabilization, crack repair, patching, repointing and stone cleaning. The crane, which became operational Sept. 3, allowed stonework and replacements to be lifted into place around the entire perimeter of the dome.
Restoration to the Statehouseâ€™s exterior was completed by workers on scaffolding affixed to the structure, previous Topeka Capital-Journal articles state. The craneâ€™s horizontal boom was used to move heavy equipment and other materials.
Site restrictions â€” such as underground mechanical vaults, visitor center structure and the parking garage â€” limited options. Mobile cranes were unable to provide the projectâ€™s reach requirements.
JE Dunn began planning for deployment of the crane in 2007.
The company discovered four base sections would be required in addition to the five it already had. JE Dunn began to find sections large enough for the Topeka job, and the extra sections were shipped here from Spain.
Statehouse renovations â€œwill be 99 percent finished by Jan. 2,â€ said Statehouse architect Barry Greis. There will be some landscaping to do in the spring, and work on the ceremonial driveway around the Capitol will be finished when the weather warms up.
The renovation began in December 2001 and has updated water, electrical, heating, air conditioning and fire safety systems, according to a November Associated Press article. Legislators have better, roomier offices and meeting rooms that are more accommodating to spectators. The state built an underground parking garage and expanded the basement, adding 128,000 square feet of space.
â€œThe crane is the major symbol of what work was done,â€ Greis said. â€œBut it also symbolizes the completion.â€
The total cost of the renovation was projected to be $332 million.
â€œWe still plan to be under that by several million dollars,â€ Greis said.
There have been ups and downs during the renovation process.
â€œWe had some notable unforeseen conditions that we didnâ€™t expect,â€ he said. â€œWe had to repair the plaster on the first and second floors of the west wing. The plaster came off in chunks. That was an expensive, unforeseen condition.â€
The new visitorâ€™s center and renovated Statehouse will open to the public Jan. 2.
â€œI think Kansans and all of the visitors will be extremely happy with this building,â€ Greis said. â€œThese were the paint colors and stencils the forefathers decided on in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s. I think visitors will be amazed about what had previously been decided.â€