Engineers identify structural issues at Bedford government complex

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Engineers have identified structural problems in a building that houses some of Bedford County's most important government offices.

County leaders say there is no immediate threat to public safety, but engineers have expressed concerns on two different occasions and there are some noticeable signs of decay inside the Bedford County administration building. Floors and walls throughout the complex have deep cracks.

"It's the wooden floor joists that are in between our steel structure," explained Sheldon Cash, director of public works for Bedford County. "Some of those floor joists have settled over the years."

What is now the county administration building was originally two separate structures, built in the 1940's and 50's. The entire complex was renovated in the early 90's, but most of the wooden floor joists are original.

In 2012 the county hired an engineering firm to study the building. In a written report engineers concluded: "the building over all is in poor condition and requires repair and rehabilitation."

County leaders were given a list of safety recommendations.

"We have made some temporary repairs to address the immediate concerns," Cash told WDBJ7.

Braces have been installed to provide extra support and broken floor joists have been replaced.

"The second floor west wing is our primary concern," Cash said. "That is where we're seeing more of our concerns with the floor joists."

An office on the second floor has been locked with signs that read "do not enter," because the floor can not handle what engineers call a "safe load capacity."

Heavy items like file cabinets have been moved to areas with better reinforcements. Most of the offices on the second floor west wing are being relocated.

The voter registrar will move to the library in two weeks, and county officials are renovating space on the basement level to accommodate information technology.

"We addressed all the immediate concerns, so at this point we don't foresee any additional immediate concerns," said Cash.

Engineers estimate it will cost $2.8 million to address the structural issues and make other recommended upgrades to the building.

County leaders have not established a timetable for addressing the issue. They're planning to renovate the old county nursing home building first and relocate some of the offices here to that location, which will free up space for a renovation.