Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Downtown library officials: no progress in nine months

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BATON ROUGE - It was April last year when workers fled the downtown library, still under construction, fearing it could collapse. Nine months later, a rough plan to fix the structure remains on hold as the city-parish fights with contractors over who will pay the added cost.

The East Baton Rouge Library Control Board had little information for an update at its Thursday meeting. "There's a lot we don't know with what's going on with the litigation and what we do know, we're limited in what we can say. Hopefully, that will change soon," said Library Director Spencer Watts.

In April critical support beams suddenly snapped apart on the building's cantilevered overhang. Four hydraulic jacks are currently supporting the structure.

The project's contractor, Buquet and Leblanc, has stated the structural failure was not a result of their workmanship but a deficiency in the building's design. Architecture and engineering firms WHCL and Schwartz Silver designed the library.

East Baton Rouge Parish is suing all the contractors and subcontractors for additional costs including repairs. Work is on hold for an unknown amount of time until the lawsuit is settled.

Watts said he worries parts of the unfinished structure will deteriorate as some of the interior is exposed to the elements. However, he said most of the building is sealed and the HVAC system is operating.

"That's not a viable, super long-term solution," said Watts.

Contractors are keeping some workers on site to maintain the building.


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