SALEM — In its time, Oregon has lost two Capitol buildings, both to fires, and engineers say the current building could fall in an earthquake of less than 8.0 magnitude.
The fix: putting shock absorbers beneath the Capitol. The cost: more than $100 million for seismic work, part of an estimated $300 million to carry out a master plan for the structure.
The problem: Coming up with that much money.
“It could be an earthquake of less than 8.0 (magnitude) that could bring this building down,” said Skip Stanaway, a retired architect who has advised the Legislature and helped to write a master plan for the building. “We want to make sure the building won’t collapse.”
A 2009 report said a severe earthquake could have dire consequences: “It is anticipated that loss of life would occur and the building would not be salvageable.”
The Salem Statesman Journal reports the Legislature has named a committee to figure out how to carry out and pay for the earthquake protection and other work.
A former legislator, Gary Wilhelms of Tigard, chairs the committee. If lawmakers move ahead, the work is likely to be done in phases and might be paid for by issuing bonds, he said.
“It is not a case of whether the work should be done,” he said. “It is a question of convincing enough people that it should be done.”