FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) - Fairfax County may sue the contractor who put up the soffit that came crashing down during Hurricane Sandy.
A 10,000 pound chunk of plaster and metal, part of the drop ceiling above the left covered walkway, broke loose on October 29, 2012. Fortunately, when it happened the courthouse was closed and nobody was there.
"It could have been fatal," said Carey Needham, the County's Director of Building Design and Construction Division of the Department of Public Works.
The rest of the soffit was removed to protect people coming into the courthouse, but wherever the soffit is still up, fences are up to keep people out.
"We just can't take the risk," Needham explains. He says their investigation has not pinpointed exactly why the soffit experienced "a failure." The winds may have been factors, but they've also found possible problems with the installation. "It was less than optimum," Needham says.
The county is looking into all its options including whether to take legal action against the contractor.
Since they don't know the exact cause of the failure, they cannot take a chance and leave up the remaining soffit. It will be removed and replaced with a different, slightly lighter material and the installation techniques will be improved.
The repairs and replacement will cost the county about $500,000, after what the county's insurance covered for the damage.
Needham says they're in the early stages of a design and construction procurement, and should get started with the repairs around September.