Visitors to the North Dakota Capitol no longer have to walk through a windy tunnel to enter the building.
The Capitol's remodeled south entrance opened Monday. The nearly $2 million project enclosed the old driveway tunnel which had served as the sole public entrance to the building since 2016. That was when the Highway Patrol, which manages security, closed all other entrances to the public due to security concerns related to protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The 2019 Legislature budgeted the money to remodel the entrance where blasts of wind met visitors and winter cold seeped into the building.
The tunnel had been closed to traffic since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The Capitol Grounds Planning Commission adopted project designs a year ago for the enclosure, landscaping and parking. Construction began in May. Visitors to the building have used the west doors to enter the Capitol.
The Capitol is a 19-story limestone tower completed in 1934. It replaced the previous brick building that burned in 1930.
“The three prime contractors did an outstanding job of making the new entrance fit aesthetically with the traditional look of the Capitol,” Facility Management Director John Boyle said in a statement.
The remodel's completion comes two weeks before the 2021 Legislature convenes Jan. 5. Visitors must now enter through the south doors and will be subject to a COVID-19 temperature screen and questions. Screening kiosks will be installed Wednesday.
Capitol tours remain suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but public hours are 7:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or email@example.com.