The project team for an $18-million branch library in Baton Rouge soon will begin a mediation to resolve issues related to the discovery on April 18 that the top chords severed in a pair of cantilevered steel trusses at the building's top level. With the project already deep into its 720-day contract and scheduled to open this year, all work stopped.

For a while the East Baton Rouge parish closed nearby streets because of concern about possible collapse of the structure. The building section has since been shored with jacks.

The repairs and rework are going to cost $2 million. The project's original construction cost was $14.6 million.

According to project documents, an initial inspection stated that the failure took place at or near improper welds. The welds involved an angle clip welded to a beam and bolted to a column, according to an inspection made in the spring. Specified as a 1/4-inch fillet weld on three sides, the inspector reported that the weld was undersized on the clip side.

A rendering of the River Center Branch Library in Baton Rouge.

"The weld does not meet the visual inspection inspection criteria" of the American Welding Society code, the inspector wrote.

Further inspection showed that there were two compromised beam-to-column connections in roof trusses' framing the building's top level.

By late April the project's prime contractor, Baton Rouge-based Duquet & LeBlanc Inc., described the failure as the apparent simultaneous rupture and complete severing of the top chord of each truss supporting the cantilever.

The new branch library will enclose about 50,000 sq ft of space on four levels. The rectangular building's main feature includes a large trellised terrace on the building's fourth floor, where the enclosed area includes public meeting rooms.

Lea Anne Batson, the attorney for the East Baton Rouge Parish, said that the parish will be present at the mediation. She said that the project's design joint venture, Baton Rouge-based WHLC Architecture and Schwartz/Silver, also served as the project manager. Officials of the company could not be reached for comment. Nor could officials from Duquet & LeBlanc.