Discussions underway on possible new Alabama Statehouse
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Legislature is looking for a new home. Once again, officials are exploring the possibility of a new building as the state prepares for another legislative session in the same building they’ve been in since 1985.
Upgrading the building would cost millions, and inspectors say a new building may be the cheaper solution.
A 2020 assessment completed by an engineering firm, ISES Corp., details the issues that continue inside the building. Several pages of pictures show outdated, inaccessible and damaged areas of the Alabama Statehouse. Pat Harris, secretary of the Senate, said they’ve had leaks and an office fire.
In September, a 20-member panel of lawmakers directed Harris and other legislative staff to explore the idea of a new Statehouse.
“The most important thing is this building is not accessible to the public to allow them to come up here and watch how the government works,” said Harris.
The 60-year-old building was originally designed as an office for highway engineers in the early 1960s. Renovations have taken place, including the addition of an eighth floor. According to the inspection report, continuing renovations will cost $50 million over the next 10 years.
“That’s pre-COVID, so you can imagine what the cost would be now,” said Harris.
Leaders say a new location would benefit more than the lawmakers and staff using it daily. They believe a new building would be more welcoming to Alabamians.
“This is a place that, just like our present Capitol, that people will be proud of for the next 200 years and that they can see and bring their families and bring the kids and come watch and participate in government,” said Harris.
There is no concrete time of when a new building would be started or completed.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to clarify the Alabama Legislature has been using the current building since 1985, not 1963, which is when the building was originally constructed for other purposes.
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