Broken Pipe Deluges Federal Courthouse

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – A water pipe burst at night and created a 17-story waterfall in the Federal Courthouse this week. The deluge could make six federal courtrooms and several offices unusable for as much as 6 months.
     Court officials did not estimate the amount of damage to the Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse but said the Tuesday-night or Wednesday-morning deluge did “major water damage.”
     Repairs could cost millions of dollars.
     Six judges’ offices have been moved due to the damage, which was limited to the south side of the building. Those judges will have to share space during repairs.
     The court said no trials or hearings have been affected yet, but it urges attorneys to pay close attention to daily docket sheets for information about courtroom locations. The court said judges’ locations are likely to change frequently while the repairs are being made.
     The General Services Administration, the government’s landlord, began the cleanup Wednesday.
     GSA spokeswoman Angela Brees told the Post-Dispatch it would try to get an estimator to assess the damages this week. Brees said the GSA would cover repairs to “real property,” but the court system would be responsible for personal property. The pipe that burst was near a holding cell on the 17th floor; Brees said it was not accessible to prisoners who may have been in the cells. Workers are still trying to find out why the pipe gave way.
     The Eagleton Courthouse was the biggest federal courthouse in the nation when it was dedicated in 2000. Its 29 oversized stories rise 567 feet and house the U.S. District Court for Eastern Missouri, offices for some federal agencies and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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