Don't get me wrong, I had no doubt that the building got severely damaged in the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The geniuses that decided to put a major facility underground in an area that flooded during Tropical Storm Allison basically drew up the plans for the State's largest in-ground jacuzzi.
I'm not surprised at all to learn that the building is a total loss. I'm just surprised that Harris County is acknowledging the building's lack of salvageability so quickly -- throwing away a 6-year-old structure that cost $13 million is a bitter pill to swallow.
My hope is that while the County is in such an "admitting-we-screwed-up" mood, they might turn their attention to the embattled Harris County Criminal Justice Center. Under optimal conditions, the building is terrible -- narrow hallways leading to elevators that sporadically work. No escalators or public stairwells. It was shut down for a year after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 after only being occupied since November 1999.
But the damage to the building from Allison appears to be nothing compared to what happened in the CJC during Harvey. Not only did it flood, apparently there was some mechanism in place that caused pipes to supercool quickly and subsequently burst, leaving raw sewage throughout the building across multiple floors.
Now, I'm not an architect or builder. Maybe there is some reason why buildings need mechanisms to supercool things. I don't know what that reason might be, unless it is to freeze Rebel Scum in carbonite before having Boba Fett transport them to Jabba the Hutt.
Whatever the reason, the CJC is now, literally, a shit show. And it's been a shit show since the day it was opened.
It's time to start over. Harris County should take some notes from the Ft. Bend Criminal Justice Center and create a shorter and wider courthouse that is more conducive to having escalators and stairways for people to reach the courts. The elevator system at Harris County CJC is grossly inefficient and dangerous. Angry (and sometimes violent) people are scrambling into small places to make it to court on time. It is truly astounding to me that no one has ever been beaten to death one morning.
The CJC needs to be completely scrapped and started over. Demolish the damn thing and spread the new construction across the site of 1201 Franklin and 1301 Franklin (the old jail). Hell, if you hold a $100-a-ticket raffle for attorneys to see who gets to press the demolition button on the CJC, you might be able to pay for the whole thing outright. There is nobody that comes into that building, from prosecutor to judge to defendant, that doesn't hate it.
If Harris County can justify scrapping the Jury Assembly Room after six years, then there is no excuse for not razing that 18-year-old hell hole of the CJC.