The former Public Safety Building has been fenced off for demolition on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The former Public Safety Building has been fenced off for demolition on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Project hits delay but they’re doing asbestos they can

Unexpected hazardous material found in roof and walls

Demolition of the former Public Safety Building is going to take longer than expected.

City and Borough of Juneau Lands and Resources Manager Greg Chaney said a sealant containing asbestos was found in between metal panels during the process of tearing down the building on Whittier Street to make way for a parking lot.

“It’s non-friable, which means it doesn’t go into the air,” project manager Lisa EaganLagerquist said of the material during a CBJ Lands Committee meeting Monday evening. “It wasn’t a harm to anybody.”

Friable asbestos containing material is something containing asbestos than can be reduced to powder by hand. The Public Safety Building was built in the 1970s with a 30-year design life, according to the city.

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The complication does not change the ultimate goal of the demolition.

“We’re still going to have a parking lot,” Chaney said.

EaganLagerquist said the asbestos-containing material was found in between seams of the building’s roof and wall panels, and it came as a surprise because sealant that did not contain asbestos had been used in more accessible wall panels that had already been removed.

“They had to do a substantial abatement,” Chaney said. “They’re taking slices out of the ceiling. It’s going to slow things down. It might take a while.”

In addition to hazardous material abatement, the teardown will include taking down the building, excavation, installing asphalt, and striping the parking lot.

During the project, fencing will block seven parking spaces along the side of the building facing the Juneau Arts & Culture Center.

EaganLagerquist said abatement of the asbestos in the roof was expected to be completed Tuesday, and the asbestos in the walls may be abated within the next few weeks.

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However, exactly how much additional time this will ultimately add to the project is unclear. EaganLagerquist was reluctant to make a specific estimate but said it would probably be about a month.

The planned completion date for the project was previously July 26, and it was expected to cost $408,000.

EaganLagerquist said the cost will be rising, too, but she did not have an amount yet.

“We’re still in the process of figuring it out,” she said.

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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