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June 10, 2014

Capitol tunnel closed due to heavy rain

OKLAHOMA CITY — The east tunnel entrance to the state Capitol was closed at the weekend after heavy weekend rains made it smell damp and musty, building officials announced Monday.

It’s common for rainwater to seep into the 680-foot long tunnel, but that problem was exacerbated when a belt broke on a large fan that keeps air flowing through the underground space, said John Estus, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

The belt has been replaced, but Estus said the musty smell was too much for a security guard to maintain his post for the entire day. He said the tunnel should be reopened “sometime this week.”

The pedestrian tunnel runs beneath Lincoln Boulevard and connects the east parking lot to the Capitol’s basement. It is commonly used by schoolchildren transported on buses directed to park in the east lot.

The Oklahoma Legislature this year approved a $120 million bond issue to fund repairs at the state Capitol, and bonds can be sold after the bill takes effect July 1. Estus said a priority for the project will include an overhaul of the building’s basement. Some of the original cast-iron pipes have rotted, and effluent has been leaking into the subsoil for years, he said.

— AP

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