NATIONAL NEWS

$300M NJ statehouse renovation wraps up as governor moves in

Mar 22, 2023, 11:52 AM

The rotunda at New Jersey's statehouse, along with new lighting, has been spruced up with a new coa...

The rotunda at New Jersey's statehouse, along with new lighting, has been spruced up with a new coat of paint to match the way the building looked more than 100 years ago, Wednesday March 22, 2023,, in Trenton, N.J. The building has been reopened and reoccupied by the governor's and other executive staff after a nearly six year, $300-million renovation. (AP Photo/Mike Catalini)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Mike Catalini)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s statehouse building, part of which dates to the 1700s and was called a fire trap, is once again open after a renovation spanning almost six years and nearly $300 million in taxpayer money.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and his administration began moving back into the building last week, and work remains to be done on the building’s façade. It’s unclear when exactly the public will once again have access to the executive wing of the building, where the renovations took place.

That work revealed giant skylights that were entombed under years’ worth of added plaster ceilings, with huge nets to catch falling pieces of debris and garbage bins to capture leaks from rainwater.

The skylights have been restored to functional use, and the building made to adhere to how it looked in the early 1900s, when the last major addition was made.

Other changes include the addition of modern sprinkler and fire alarm systems, new heating and air conditioning, a hand-dug foundation that the building previously lacked, internal fire escape stairwells to replace exterior versions that were falling down, new windows and numerous cosmetic changes.

The building previously had cracked paint and exposed wires, window units for air conditioning and steam heat for the winter that frequently malfunctioned.

Around the building on Tuesday, state workers settled into their new workspaces.

State Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio was among them, still sorting through boxes and unhung picture frames.

She discovered, she said, that a photo someone had given her of former President John F. Kennedy speaking from the statehouse reflects the current view from her new office window.

Former Gov. Chris Christie announced the project in late 2016, saying the project was needed because the building was unsafe — he called it a “fire trap” at the time.

Funding was secured in May 2017. Soon after that, three years of work began to prepare the building for the renovation — including removing asbestos, layers of paint and numerous drop-ceilings, walls and other fixtures.

The renovation stage took another three years and meant Murphy was displaced to a nondescript office building down the street, and school tours couldn’t wind their usual routes through the ancient building.

Murphy was eager to get back into the building, mentioning that renovation was nearly complete in his budget address earlier this year.

“It took hard work to build this capitol. It took more hard work to rebuild it,” he said. “And that is a most New Jersey story.”

There’s still more work to be done, including the shoring up of a portico in the front of the building, which remains obscured by beams and wood planks. An external security structure, to screen visitors, is also still being worked on.

National News

Associated Press

Wildfire north of Los Angeles spreads as authorities issue evacuation orders

GORMAN, Calif. (AP) — Authorities issued evacuation orders Saturday as a wildfire in Los Angeles County spread thousands of acres close to a major highway and threatened nearby structures, officials said. The blaze that is being called the Post Fire burned more than 3,600 acres (5.6 square miles or 14.5 square kilometers) near the Interstate […]

4 hours ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Shooting at splash pad in Detroit suburb leaves ‘numerous wounded victims,’ authorities say

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Multiple people were wounded Saturday in a shooting at a splash pad in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills, authorities said. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard told reporters that “it sounds like we have nine, maybe 10 victims with gunshot wounds, victims of varying kinds of injuries.” Authorities said they […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs returns key to New York City in response to video of him attacking singer Cassie

NEW YORK (AP) — Sean “ Diddy ” Combs has returned his key to New York City after a request from Mayor Eric Adams in response to the release of a video showing the music mogul attacking R&B singer Cassie, officials said Saturday. The mayor’s office said Combs returned the key after Adams sent letters […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Victim identified in Southern California homicide case, 41 years after her remains were found

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A victim whose skull was found by children in a Southern California city in 1983 has been identified 41 years after her remains were first discovered, authorities said. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department identified the victim Friday as Maritza Glean Grimmett, a Panamanian native who moved to the U.S. in […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Missouri abortion ban wasn’t about lawmakers imposing religious beliefs, judge says

A judge in Missouri says lawmakers who passed a restrictive abortion ban weren’t trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone in the state, rejecting a case filed by more than a dozen Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist leaders who support abortion rights. The groups sought a permanent injunction last year barring Missouri from enforcing […]

10 hours ago

$300M NJ statehouse renovation wraps up as governor moves in