Rotting Floor In Bethel Public Works Building Could Cost Millions To Fix

Nov 22, 2019

The City of Bethel's Public Works building has a rotting floor that could cost millions of dollars to fix.
Credit City of Bethel

The City of Bethel has another problem that’s going to get expensive: the floor in the city’s Public Works building is rotting. Fixing the building will cost anywhere from $1 million to $30 million.

Acting City Manager Bill Howell says that the city noticed the problem this summer as they watched water trucks leave the Public Works building.

“The floor would press down a few inches, and then spring back up when the weight was off of it,” Howell said.

They looked underneath the building, and it wasn’t good.

“There’s a number of rotten beams, and girders, and metal brackets that have detached in certain areas,” Howell said. He explained that it’s an old building that was built in the early 1980s. Part of the problem is the water trucks parked inside.

“Some are leaking a bit, and that got on the floor and has penetrated in some areas,” Howell said.

He says that they have moved heavy equipment outside, and are parking water trucks on the side of the building in question.

“If we don’t do something those beams will continue to rot, and you could have a piece of heavy equipment or large sewer water truck fall through the floor,” Howell said.

He says that the city is considering three options. They might just replace the floor, which would cost $1 million to $1.5 million, or they might also fix the delaminating walls, which would add $5 million to $6 million. They could also replace the whole building, which would cost around $30 million. Howell said that in addition to its deteriorating condition, the building is just too small to support the entire Public Works Department as it exists today.

“When that building was built there was, like, 3,000 people in Bethel; now there’s, like, 7,000,” Howell said.

The city has requested $7 million from the state to help pay for the repair. Howell said that the state helped rebuild the Fire Department and Police Department buildings before, but that was over five years ago. At its last meeting, the Bethel City Council approved $150,000 to assess the damage. Howell says that part of that money will be used for emergency repairs. 

“We want to stabilize anything that’s in imminent danger of collapsing or breaking,” he said.

As of now, the city is waiting on the full engineering report to decide which approach to take to fix Bethel’s deteriorating Public Works building.