RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Demolition started on the outside of the old General Assembly building in downtown Richmond on Saturday, and the destruction may have impacted drivers in the area.
Like the head of a dinosaur, a demolition vehicle chewed through the metal skeleton of what's left of the General Assembly building. As pieces are stripped away, bystanders stopped to take pictures and video.
The building has been in the process of demolition since the start of the year, but this is the first day the outside structure is being destroyed.
"They started from the interior working out," said Susan Schaar, clerk of the Senate. "Due to the fact it's on such a strategic sight as far as traffic flow and some other issue with the building, we could not implode it. So it's being taken down piece by piece."
The outer demolition closed off 9th Street between East Grace and East Broad streets. Drivers had to take a detour around the demolition zone.
"There are no pedestrian walk ways around that building now," said Schaar.
The ornate part of the building was once a bank built back in 1912. Capitol officials are hoping to preserve some of its the southeast facade and incorporate it into the new building.
Health hazards like asbestos and mold, along with plumbing and HVAC issues, resulted in the need for demolition of the building's west side.
The new building and an accompanying parking deck across the street are expected to be complete in 2021. Officials say the new building's style will reflect the historic architecture of Capitol Square.
Demolition is currently on schedule to be completed midway through 2018.
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