FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As officials work to get to the bottom of possible structural issues that led them to shut down the very top floors of the Broward County Courthouse Friday, new photos released Tuesday show the extent of the cracks that prompted concern among staff members.
Those staff members reported the cracks to county engineers.
The photos show breaks in the concrete beams more than 30 feet above the roof deck, forcing the closure of floors 18 through 21.
Floors 18 through 19 were the only ones that had workers. Officials deemed the rest of the building safe.
“It is really the roof of the building that has all the mechanical equipment and this is just a façade for some panels that engulf the equipment,” Broward County Public Works Director Trevor Fisher said.
Fisher took questions from commissioners Tuesday.
“Is it inferior steel that was used?” Commissioner Steve Geller asked.
Consultants had to build scaffolding just to access the beams to take a closer look.
“The analysis was that the cracks were not as severe as they appeared in the photograph,” Fisher said.
Officials were concerned that a building erected less than a decade ago is already experiencing breaks in its concrete.
“A building that is seven years old shouldn’t be demonstrating this,” Fisher said.
Fisher said he did not want to speculate as to the cause of the cracks and the county is hiring a second company to get another opinion on the matter.
He said consultants are using ground penetrating radar to check the steel within the concrete.