U.S. Capitol Dome under construction in November

Another depiction of the scaffolding as it could appear at night. Photo: Architect of the Capitol

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - From a distance, the Capitol Dome appears clean and solid. But up close, it’s more like a web of tears and crumbling metal.

The dome is riddled with more than 1,000 cracks and deficiencies. It is constructed of millions of pounds of cast and wrought iron and supported by a massive amount of brick. But all of it is old, and the years are taking a toll on the historical landmark.

"I mean, if it has got to be repaired it has to be repaired," said tourist Linda Coiner.

This is the first time since 1960 that the Capitol Dome will be undergoing major repairs. This time around, it will be draped with scaffolding and look much like the Washington Monument currently does. The dome will also be illuminated at night.

Visitors on the Mall on Tuesday are glad they got here before the work begins, as the project is expected to take at least two years and cost more than $40 million. And some on the Mall today say that after the government shutdown and the close call we had with defaulting on our debt, a major overhaul of the Capitol dome is somehow appropriate.

"We are a little embarrassed right now as a nation, so maybe in two or three years we won't be so embarrassed and it will come back clean, bright, and new," said tourist Daryl House.

"I think temporarily it's not going to look really good, but maybe in the long-term it'll maybe be better," added tourist Andrew Chu.

It’s believed to be the first time the dome and the Washington Monument will be covered in scaffolding at the same time, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Scaffolding at the Washington Monument began to rise in March in order to make repairs after the 2011 earthquake. It's expected to come down by next spring.

The Capitol Dome project will start in November.