Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

McGregor Co.

By Will DeMarco
Gazette Reporter 

Structural damage found in Public Service Building


July 26, 2018 | View PDF

Support beams under a section of the Public Service Building are deteriorating extensively due to moisture infiltration.

After learning an inspection found severe structural damage localized in two sections of the Public Service Building in Colfax, Whitman County Commissioners approved a resolution Monday for funds for emergency repairs.

In response to concerns raised by county staff, Evan Laubach of Reliant Engineering was hired to evaluate the building's structural integrity July 17. Laubach discovered a pair of hazardous, structurally inadequate areas in the building and reported his findings to county officials.

According to Laubach, an 14x8-foot section of the floor and subfloor located near the building's main entrance is "completely deteriorated due to moisture," causing two support beams to loosen from the floor above and one beam to break off all together.

"There is deterioration extending well beyond the limits listed ... the extent of which yet needs to be determined," Laubach said.

The floor area's foundation shows "definite signs of settlement," Laubach explained, which he noted is likely a result of cracks in the brick surface that allowed water to flow under the building rather than drain onto the sidewalk. This drainage has most likely been eroding the structure's foundation since it was remodeled in 1975, according to Laubach.

"The floor ... is considered to have no structural integrity as to support loads typically expected, let alone meet any code," Laubach said. "The floor is dangerous and there is no reason to believe that the floor section would not fail partially or fully under its own weight."

Additionally, Laubach discovered a brick veneer wall section near the back of the building has broken free from its structural support and is likely being held up by its own accord.

"The brick work in and of itself appears to be in reasonably good condition, however, this section has moved in its entirety over time due to the deterioration mentioned [previously,]" Laubach said.

Despite the extent of the damage, Laubach said the structurally compromised areas are non-weight bearing and do not pose a risk to the second level of the building.

"While there could be significant collateral damage to nonstructural items in the event of the floor collapse, there is almost no chance of it affecting the main support structure, and thus, would not affect the second floor even directly above the stated area," Laubach explained.

In approving the emergency funding, commissioners waived all bidding requirements for the project and contracted Reliant Engineering to arrange repairs. According to Laubach, temporary shoring in the building's crawlspace will begin "as soon as feasibly possible" to prevent further harm. Reliant will conduct an additional investigation to establish a more comprehensive assessment of the damage and will work with county commissioners to draft a repair plan once the full scope of the project is determined.

There is currently no cost estimate.

"I'm just glad we caught it and nobody got hurt," Commissioner Art Swannack said.

Moscow & Pullman Building Supply

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