JUNEAU — In the nightmare scenario, a big earthquake strikes near Juneau, shaking the Capitol to its foundation.
The building's concrete core survives, but its massive brickwork, never having been firmly attached to the building structure and weakened by decades of rainwater penetration and moisture, collapses in a heap from the fifth floor to the ground. Woe to any pedestrian on the sidewalk or driver in the adjacent narrow streets.
Worse yet, the Capitol's magnificent, segmented marble columns, held together only by gravity and their pedestals, and already tilted downhill from previous quakes, collapse and separate.
~ snip ~
But while a catastrophic collapse of the Capitol is theoretical, the building is slowly disintegrating now.
Up on the fifth floor last year, Sen. Bert Stedman, then the co-chairman of the Finance Committee, was wondering why papers left around the windows at night were soaking wet in the morning, even when the windows were closed. The office called building maintenance and asked them to fix the problem, but were told nothing could be done short of a major renovation.
Not long afterward, one of Stedman's aides, Darwin Peterson, came to work and found a two-pound chunk of moulded sandstone on the steps of the building's main entrance. It had broken loose from the building above.
"I picked it up and I went to Don Johnston, the building manager, and I said, 'What the heck is this?' and he said, 'That's what I was telling you about -- the building's falling apart,'" Peterson said.
You may remember there was a 7.5-magnitude 'quake about 200 miles southwest of there, three weeks ago. Can you say "Borrowed time?"
Read the rest here.