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Price tag for probe into downtown library problems could go up

The Parish Attorney’s Office is asking the Metro Council to nearly triple the size of the parish’s contract with the outside consulting firm overseeing the investigation into the structural failure of the under construction downtown library.

At its meeting later today, the council will consider an emergency measure to increase the parish’s contract with Delaware-based structural engineering firm Exponent to $67,500 from $17,500—a $50,000 increase.

The measure does not specifically state why the increase is needed and whether the scope of Exponent’s work has been expanded or merely the length of time the firm is expected to remain on the job.

But documentation attached to the council agenda says, “the library and Parish Attorney’s office are asking that this be considered an emergency, waiving the requirement for introduction, to insure continuing service under the contract.”  

If the measure were not considered on an emergency basis, it could only be formally introduced tonight and could not be voted on for at least two more weeks.

In a statement to Daily Report, the parish attorney says the city expects to recover all fees paid to Exponent once the matter is fully resolved.

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration hired Exponent in late April, shortly after construction crews detected a structural failure in the cantilevered portion of the building overlooking North Boulevard’s Town Square. While the city’s architect/project manager, WHLC Architects, is also conducting an investigation into what went wrong, Broome said she wanted an outside firm with no involvement in the project to also oversee the probe.

In the months since, little information has been released and neither Exponent nor WHLC has made any public statements about its progress or findings to date.

Earlier this month, the Mayor’s office released a brief update saying detailed measurements of the building are being acquired to establish the limits of structural movement, and that the design team has prepared permanent repair instructions for the structural steel frame.

There is still no word on when construction on the project might resume.

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