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UPDATE: Council approves emergency work on Buchanan garage

Posted at 8:07 AM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 23:46:42-04

LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish Council approved an emergency ordinance that authorizes work on the Buchanan Street Parking Garage.

Last week, Lafayette Consolidated Government announced that concrete panels on the garage, each weighing two-and-a-half tons, are at risk of falling.

At the meeting, the council approved an ordinance authorizing the administration to proceed with work on the failing building. The ordinance approves up to $400,000 to be spent on the project.

Officials hope work will start in two weeks or sooner to remove the panels.

Right now, there's no firm timetable. The goal though is to have the work done before Festival International begins in 43 days.

New photos show severe corrosion to the Buchanan Street Parking Garage. The existing steel clips that attach to the concrete panels are failing. A recent inspection report ranked the damage in three categories: minor, advanced and severe corrosion.

Lafayette Parish Councilman Kevin Naquin said, "It's a big liability on our government and our city should those things come tumbling down."

The six story garage is nearly 40 years old.

Interim Public Wokrs Director Chad Nepveaux said more than 50% of the garage's panels are in the advanced to severe corrosion stage. He said rain water gets trapped, expediting the damage.

"It's been sitting on top of these steel components and deteriorating and there's some clips that we can't even see," Nepveaux said.

Removing the panels comes with a hefty price tag, but Mayor-President Josh Guillory and the Parish Council agree it has to be done.

"We assessed it at $400,000. We hope to get it underneath that number," Guillory said.

Though Naquin is on board, he questions why the repairs were not done in 2018 when the previous administration became aware of the garage's issues.

"Perhaps we could have taken care of those panels two years ago," Naquin said. "There was funding available in the courthouse complex fund two years ago like there is today. For whatever reason, they decided to just close it. I'm just glad we're being proactive and not just trying to kick the can down the curb."

Nepveaux said, "The difference between 18 and today is that we think someone could get killed."

Public Works has closed one lane in front of the garage.

As for Festival International, one of the big stages is on the side of the garage. LCG plans to work with Festival to make sure everyone is safe, but once again, their goal is to have the work done before Festival begins.

See video of the meeting below.

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