Engineers offer blueprint of a breakdown at Courthouse Square

Marion County Courthouse in Salem, Oregon
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A preliminary report presented by SERA Architects Inc. and Miller Consulting Engineers ? part of the team hired by Marion County and the Salem Area Transit District to study the defects ? gave officials an overview of Courthouse Square’s troubles.

One of the big concerns: punching shear.

At a July 26 meeting of county and transit officials, an engineer demonstrated punching shear by driving a sharpened pencil through a sheet of paper. The worry is that columns at Courthouse Square and the transit mall likewise could punch through concrete slabs. Engineers say the slabs lack sufficient reinforcement.

What the engineers’ report didn’t answer is how so many different things could have gone wrong.

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