Costs of the State Capitol security upgrade project keep growing — approaching $400,000 more than the original bid.

And three weeks before the April 13 start of the 2015 session of the Louisiana Legislature, those unexpected problems have led to construction delays, pushing back the project’s completion closer and closer to when all those legislators arrive.

“The project will be complete in time for session,” said Meghan Parrish, communications director at the state Division of Administration. “Parking, guard stations and pedestrian access will be complete by April 1. Landscaping and decorative bollard sleeves will be completed the next week.”

The security upgrade had an original price tag of $4.37 million. Change orders have now bumped the cost to $4.76 million.

The change orders for additional work also resulted in a 33-day extension of the original project completion date of March 22, Parrish said, adding, “the contractor intends on completing the project prior to the contract completion date and prior to the legislative session.”

When complete, the State Capitol will have a new plaza, improved traffic flow and increased security, Parrish said.

The project, which began in July, converts part of the parking lot in front of the Capitol building into a pedestrian plaza. When the Legislature is in session, decorative bollards bordering the plaza will be removed and the plaza area will be used for parking. Bollards are vertical barriers that stop the passage of vehicles. Bollards also are being installed along the perimeter of the Capitol to stop vehicles from getting close to the Capitol from the parking lot and street.

Four security posts are being installed on the northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest corners to police parking restrictions. The stations will be manned as deemed necessary by the Legislature. Electronic controlled access to restricted lots also would be available.

A major traffic realignment project associated with the project has been put on hold until after the session.

Construction workers ran into a series of problems that increased costs. An initial round of change orders ranged from $32,499 to $45,948.

Another five change orders have been approved since then, ranging from $27,863 to $61,657.

The change orders were due to “various unforeseen underground obstructions” discovered as bollards were installed; additional lighting and security cameras needed at the back of the Capitol; shifting of the placement of a security station “due to underground conflicts”; relocation of a light pole and camera at the southeast side of new parking area for “enhanced surveillance”; a revised landscaping plan for better camera surveillance; and sidewalk modifications and partial replacement of a handrail.

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