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The south end of Liberty Street is closed until further notice while engineers determine whether the area is safe.
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Feb. 3, 201512:00 PM EST

No timetable for repairs, restoration of power after Liberty Street collapse

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

What is known: A section of the intersection of Coastline Drive and Liberty Street collapsed into the St. Johns River early Sunday morning.

What is not known: Why the roadway, suspended above the river on pilings, failed; what it will take to repair the damage and how long residents at the Riverwalk Townhomes at The Plaza will be without electricity.

“We are in survival mode,” said Dawn Emerick, a townhome resident who, along with her husband, two children and the family cat and dog checked into the nearby Hyatt Regency Riverfront on Sunday.

She said Monday morning that another night at the hotel was planned while the family looks for more long-term accommodations.

When the roadway collapsed, a JEA transformer, power cables and the conduit that provided electric service to the townhomes were damaged.

Residents were sent a letter from JEA on Monday afternoon that explained due to the large size and weight of the 5,200-pound transformer and the equipment needed to replace it, JEA is “currently unable to safely replace it” because of the weight restriction on the roads in the area.

“At this time, we do not have an estimated time for power restoration,” the letter stated.

Emerick said, “The last word we got is at least two weeks.”

Another section of Liberty Street, which is rated at three tons maximum capacity, collapsed in April 2012 when a 12-ton crane was used for pressure washing the parking garage at The Plaza at Berkman condominiums. The condos are not affected by the power outage.

City spokesman David DeCamp said Monday the Reynolds, Smith and Hills engineering firm will assess the damage and determine the safety of the structure between the former Duval County Courthouse and the river.

He said the Florida Department of Transportation inspects the parking deck every two years, due to its classification as a bridge since it is suspended above the water.

The last inspection in 2013 did not call for any needed repairs or raise any maintenance issues, DeCamp said.

The first step will be for engineers to determine the safety of the remaining structure.

Some demolition may be required before a complete inspection can be conducted.

“We’re in the fact-finding portion of this,” DeCamp said Monday afternoon.

No timeline for repair will be known until the damage is assessed, he said.

State transportation department spokesman Ron Tittle said Monday a remote-controlled camera may be used to inspect the space near the collapse before divers enter the water, but the assessment is a “priority project.”

People who work in the State Attorney’s Office and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office who were parking in the lot between the former Duval County Courthouse and the river will park in the Yates Building garage until further notice.

“We are using an abundance of caution,” said DeCamp.

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