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Capitol Dome Repairs To Begin, Marking First Major Restoration Since 1960

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The Senate, right, and the Capitol Dome are seen in Washington, Monday, Oct. 14, 2013. The Senate's top two leaders both expressed optimism Monday that they were closing in on an agreement to prevent a national financial default and reopen the government after a two-week partial shutdown. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) | AP

WASHINGTON -- WASHINGTON (AP) — The dome of the U.S. Capitol is getting a new look.

The 150-year-old, cast-iron dome will soon be sheathed in scaffolding, a requirement of its first major restoration since 1960.

The architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers, announced the restoration work on Tuesday, saying it's needed to address more than 1,000 cracks and other problems in the structure. The restoration is expected to cost about $59.5 million and take about two years.

Ayers says the "critical work" must be done now to save the dome. He says that even though the Capitol looks great from a distance, age and weather have taken a toll.

The repairs aren't expected to affect legislative business or tours.

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