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Florida Senate garage closed amid structural concerns

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The Florida Senate’s underground parking garage has been closed “in an abundance of caution” while work is underway to reinforce the structure, a state spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The garage was closed Friday until further notice, said Maggie Mickler, spokeswoman for the Department of Management Services (DMS), which oversees the Capitol.

She stressed that at no time was the garage in danger of collapse. It has been in continuous use since the building opened in 1978.

“The original waterproofing system has reached the end of its life and the structure is showing signs of water intrusion,” Mickler said in an email. “The design of the new waterproofing solution was nearing completion.”

But structural engineers recently spotted “an accelerated deterioration” of parts of the garage because of intruding water.

The engineers recommended immediate supports be put in place “to ensure the continued integrity of the structure,” Mickler said. “The full design will provide water intrusion solutions and additional structural solutions to prolong the life of the structure and ensure the safety of its occupants.”

The House garage also will be repaired, she added.

In 2014, both parking garages had structural analyses. DMS started getting money from the Legislature in fiscal year 2014-15 to reinforce the garages.

But the project’s engineers last week told DMS “the current state of the Senate parking garage requires immediate attention,” Mickler said.

Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta provided a copy of a memo Senate President Andy Gardiner sent to staff last week, advising them of the shutdown.

Some staff were told their spaces were being temporarily moved to other state parking garages downtown. Senators were told they would have spots in the central Capitol Parking Garage “in advance of the 2017 Legislative Session.”

“Thank you for patience and understanding,” Gardiner wrote.

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Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster contributed reporting. Jim Rosica (jim@floridapolitics.com) covers the Florida Legislature, state agencies and courts from Tallahassee. 

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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