Costs rise as inspection continues into Milwaukee City Hall damage

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Costs rise as inspection continues into Milwaukee City Hall damage

By the WTMJ News Team. CREATED May 14, 2012 - UPDATED: May 14, 2012

MILWAUKEE - Crews were to again close off downtown Milwaukee streets Monday as they make another effort to figure out why pieces of terra-cotta continue to fall off City Hall.

For the third time, City of Milwaukee officials are trying to solve the mystery, and it comes with another costly price tag.

The city already spent $76 million to repair the terra-cotta, while spending more than $1 million more to identify the problems.  It could spend more than $9 million to $16 million more on possible repairs.

A lawsuit was filed earlier in 2012 against an engineering firm who renovated City Hall in 2008.  The suit involves the installation on the exterior.

Pieces of the terra-cotta continue to fall, with the first piece coming down more than a year ago.

The city spent nearly $1 million to find out the reason.  It seems extensive cracking is to blame.

On Monday, a third investigation by the Milwaukee Department of Public Works began.

Crews used a 100 foot crane to conduct the investigation.

"They wanted to see if there was further deterioration after the winter season," said Alderman Bob Bauman. 

"There was an issue as to whether the cavities needed to be filled with any sort of material, because historically, they were not generally filled."

Bauman also questioned the exact combination of water used in the preparation of grout.

The lawsuit claims grout deteriorated since the project's completion, and it expanded because of Wisconsin's winters.

"Obviously, there were mistakes made," said Bauman.  "The fault does not lie with the City of Milwaukee."

The city was to close Water Street, followed by Kilbourn Avenue and Market Street as crews look at the terra-cotta.

If repairs are necessary, city officials estimate a cost anywhere from $9 million to $16 million.