Cracking the surface

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

At first, the fine fractures were barely visible.

But over the years – particularly in recent months – the cracks stretching across several floors and walls within the Suffolk Police Department have widened into gaping splits, up to two inches in some spots, and created sloping floors in some halls.

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Earlier this week, the city closed off a portion of department, located on the Wellons Street side of the 42-year-old Municipal Building, and brought in a private engineering firm to evaluate the problem.

The police department lobby has been temporarily relocated to a different Wellons Street entrance.

On Tuesday, the firm bored holes – some up to 12 feet deep – into the concrete slab and the soil underneath to find out what is causing the concrete to settle, said Dennis Craff, spokesman for the city. Engineers also took core samples from beneath the concrete to determine the type of fill supporting the building, he said.

Although the soil tests results aren’t back yet, Craff said engineers discovered occasional air pockets in the fill material as they did borings on Tuesday.

&uot;We moved some people out as a precaution,&uot; Craff said. He stressed that engineers have said the building is safe.

Later this week, engineers will be drilling outside the Municipal Building, and gathering soil samples to determine the likelihood of the problem spreading.

Once the tests are finalized, the firm will recommend the most effective way to remedy the problems, Craff said.