Broken storm runoff pipe compounds infrastructure issues in Columbus Government Center

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — It’s well documented that the Columbus Government Center has infrastructure issues.

But’s here’s a new one. Debris that includes bird feces leaking into offices.

This is a new twist on an old problem. This particular pipe carries storm runoff water from the top of the building, and it’s made a mess in one judge’s office.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Gil McBride found debris and water in his conference room and legal assistant’s office.

It came from a 51-year-old cast-iron pipe that had failed.

“This is almost three years to the date of the floods of June 2018,’ McBride said. “And you sort of have a sense of being back to the future. You wonder what’s going on. Why it hasn’t been dealt with before. Why three years later we are still being shut out of courtrooms and unable to use facilities because of the condition of the building.”

City Manager Isaiah Hugley is aware of the problem.

“One of those pipes in this 50-plus year-old building ruptured,” Hugley told News 3. “And when the pipe ruptured, of course the pipe is filled with leaves, bird feces, other organic matter.”

McBride has canceled a Superior Court criminal docket call Wednesday. He held one Tuesday in his 11th-floor courtroom, but only because it was too late to cancel.

“Unfortunately, trying to change a court docket after everyone is already here is like trying to round a battleship,,” McBride said. “You just really can’t do that. That’s not how court schedules work. We have been forced to suspend it the rest of the week.”

The impact is not widespread, but McBride expressed concern that it could be.

“Once we hear back from the city on how this may affect other areas of the building it may have other ramifications and repercussions,’ McBride said. “But right now, that’s undetermined. It is primarily affecting two courtrooms – a State Court courtroom and a Superior Court courtroom and the dockets in those cases.”

The city is looking at that, Hugley said.

“They have consulted some professionals and they don’t believe it’s a health hazard for human occupation,” Hugley said. “But out of an abundance of caution, we are going to air-quality testing done just to make certain. We are not just going to operate on what some tell us that there should be no concerns.”

The pipe ruptures three years ago exposed major infrastructure issues in the 51-year-old building. This is just more of the same.

“In any old structure, whether it’s an old building, an old house, or an old car, something is going to break if it’s 50 years old,’ Hugley said. “And we have had a lot of breaks in this building. And that is why the elected officials are looking at other options for a judicial building and administrative officers. Because it’s a 50-year-old building and it’s had its problems.”

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