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Victoria County to replace fallen bricks, fix rusty steel lintels at annex

Sept. 5, 2012 at 4:05 a.m.
Updated Sept. 6, 2012 at 4:06 a.m.

Officials blocked off the entrance to the Victoria County Bridge Street Annex after bricks became loose and fell when a steel lintel rusted underneath.

Scaffolding was set up outside the Victoria County Bridge Street Annex after officials noticed 3-inch-sized clumps of bricks were falling off the about 40-year-old structure.

And now they've diagnosed the problem.

Walter P. Moore, a Houston-based structural engineering firm, announced last Thursday that the steel lintels underneath had rusted over time, forcing the mortar to shove the bricks out of the way, local architect Rawley McCoy said.

McCoy said the problem in no way jeopardizes the building's foundation, and the recent drought isn't to blame.

"Sometimes you just have to look at it (the brickwork) as a thick coat of paint," said McCoy, who has helped renovate many downtown structures, including the bandstand in DeLeon Plaza, the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church and the Methodist Church's children's center, throughout his about 40-year career.

"One could argue that it (the issue) began the day it was finished, because those lintels weren't galvanized."

Now, it's just a matter of coating the steel lintels with a protective chemical and ordering replacement bricks, the latter of which may get a bit tricky.

"In years past, manufacturers went out of their way to match bricks with buildings," but it's not so now in these harsh economic times, he said.

He said bricks can run anywhere from $450 to $800 per thousand. And it'll be costlier if workers have to cook up a smaller, special batch to get the bricks to match.

County Judge Don Pozzi doesn't know what the project's bill will be yet but anticipates tapping the county's about $36-million general fund budget for it.

McCoy said repairs may take three to six weeks to complete once it gets bid out.

"At least we know what the problem is now, and we know how to fix it," McCoy said.



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