Reported stability issues with new library under construction prompt evacuations, street closures

This pic shows the part of the building where crews are focused. It’s where the beam meets the wall in the top right corner of the structure. (Source: City of Baton Rouge)
This pic shows the part of the building where crews are focused. It’s where the beam meets the wall in the top right corner of the structure. (Source: City of Baton Rouge)
Here is another close-up picture of the crack discovered on April 18, 2018. (Source: City of Baton Rouge)
Here is another close-up picture of the crack discovered on April 18, 2018. (Source: City of Baton Rouge)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Reports of stability issues with a new library under construction in downtown Baton Rouge have resulted in evacuations of nearby buildings and street closures.

Mary Stein, assistant library director, said the contractors saw something that concerned them, so they called the architects and the Department of Public Works (DPW).

She said they have asked for an inspector to go out to the site Thursday. She added out of an abundance of caution, they asked for the street to be closed down until the issue can be checked out.

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome released the following statement:

The River Center Branch Library, which is currently under construction on North Boulevard, experienced a settlement event at approximately 4:45pm this afternoon. As a precautionary measure, the surrounding streets and businesses were closed to the public. The architects have contacted the structural engineer and design team who will be on-site at 8:30am Thursday to further analyze the situation and make recommendations. In the meantime, we will take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all citizens in the area.

Darryl Gissel, chief administrative officer for East Baton Rouge Parish, said Baton Rouge City Hall and the 19th Judicial District Court will be closed until at least noon. He added officials will determine when the buildings will be opened after the inspector finishes analyzing the site.

Baton Rouge City Court is not affected by the library construction issue.

The Baton Rouge Fire Department and Baton Rouge Police Department blocked off streets around the construction site. Nearby bars and other buildings were cleared for safety.

Firefighters asked customers at North Boulevard businesses, like Jolie Pearl, to leave. An employee at Jolie Pearl said they were told a crack was discovered in a foundation column. The restaurant is losing lots of money due to the closure.

Early voting at Baton Rouge City Hall will also be unavailable until at least noon. Those looking to cast their ballots early will have to do so at the other locations until the building reopens.

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