EL CENTRO – On April 14, 2010, an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude hit Baja California. The initial quake and subsequent aftershocks caused substantial damage to the Imperial Valley’s historic courthouse on Main Street in El Centro.
The second floor incurred substantial damage and required immediate attention. The basement and first floor of the courthouse suffered minor damages.
The most significant damage to the courthouse was caused by a broken water pipe that flooded the probation office. Three days after the quake, U.S. Probation Officer Pascual Linarez was in his office where 30 commercial-size fans were running to dry the interior.
After four years of the courthouse interior lined with scaffolding, plastic covered walls, and electrical cords draped over ladders and snaked down hallways, five contractors’ bids to repair the 4 year-old damages were opened March 17, 2014.
William Brunet, Director of Public Works, informed the board that the apparent lowest responsive, responsible bidder was Caltec Corporation from Westminister, California. Their bid was for $267,770, approximately $50,000 under the engineer/architect’s estimate.
Questioned by the board as to why the job didn’t go to a local contractor, Brunet said that no local contractor had bid on the project.
According to the board, part of the delay was due to coming to an agreement with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on the scope of work, and dealing with the state preservation office because of the historical aspects of the courthouse.
Imperial County Court Executive Officer Kristi Kussman said, “I think what is being done to fix the interior is great. The Courthouse has needed these repairs for several years, and the extra space in the hallways that is being taken up by construction will be a vast improvement, not only for the look and feel of the Courthouse but for those who may use the space during their visits. I expect the work to take between 4 to 5 months.”
Additional reporting by Alex Carothers