For the next four months Government Plaza will be in transition. By the end of May, the sunlights adorning the middle of the atrium will be replaced with metal in order to hopefully stop the chronically leaking roof that has plagued the nautically themed, post-modernist building since it first towered over downtown.
The county project has already started and Government Plaza’s east side doors, which are between the building and the annex, are closed as crews work on the North Tower.
On Jan. 22 roof work that is more centrally located above the atrium — the heart of the problems — will start. Also, a crane will be set up outside the east doors. The driveway as well as the pedestrian area outside the east doors will be blocked off and no traffic — pedestrian or vehicular — will be allowed.
It isn’t until Jan. 31, when a new group of jurors arrive, that work will begin impacting most people.
“When the jurors come, they will have to enter through the Government Street doors to go to the courts,” said Mobile County Community Services Director Nancy Johnson. “There will be a line that serpentines in order for everyone to get to the courtrooms.
“The reason for this is at that time the crews will have begun working on the center of the atrium. We are making sure to take every precaution.”
People coming to Government Plaza through the Joachim Street doors will walk along a roped path that skirts the periphery. Johnson said at points there will be canopies above certain parts of the paths where the building’s inside ledges are not protecting people.
On Feb. 3, the demolition of the leaking skylights will begin.
The county allocated $3.2 million for this project in its 2014 budget in hopes that the porous roof will finally be sealed. Typically on a rainy day in Mobile, 32-gallon trash cans catch steams of water from the roof, usually near the county side’s elevators.
Since the county opened the building in 1995, the roof leaks have been a problem. However, the leaks have been getting progressively worse. On May 2, 2012, the leaks were so bad after a heavy rain that courtrooms were soaked and elevators going to the courtrooms were not operating.
Johnson said this is the first time the roof is being worked on to this degree.
Team Roofing Inc., which has an office in Mobile, is handling the project, which is expected to be completed by the end of May. The contract has a “no leak” guarantee and a 20-year warrantee.