US Capitol dome restoration finished ahead of Trump inauguration

Visitors tour the Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. The Capitol Dome had a a three-year, $60 million repair project that's come to completion with weeks to spare before the inauguration of President-elect Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Visitors tour the Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. The Capitol Dome had a a three-year, $60 million repair project that's come to completion with weeks to spare before the inauguration of President-elect Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — Workers removed the last bit of scaffolding to unveil a freshly painted and restored U.S. Capitol dome nearly two months before President-elect Donald Trump will use the building as the backdrop to his inauguration.

“This project was the first complete restoration of the dome in more than half a century,” said Stephen Ayers, Architect of the Capitol. “The dome was in dire need of repair.”

The dome is made of cast iron, which is more than 150 years old and could not be welded to fix its flaws.

Crews instead spent two and a half years repairing 8,000 inches of cracks using a “lock and stitch” technique, according to Ayers.

They also repainted the bright dome exterior with 1,215 gallons of paint in a color called “dome white.”

In total, workers assembled 52 miles of scaffold pipe weighing 1.1 million pounds to get the job done.

The restoration finished without any damage to the famous artwork inside the Capitol Rotunda, the large room directly underneath the dome, including the Apotheosis of Washington and the Frieze of American History.