ELYRIA — The Lorain County Justice Center will remain closed to the general public today while crews work to replace a fiber optic cable that was severed Thursday.
The county’s presiding judge, Probate Judge James Walther, said in a news release that the decision was made to keep the general public out of the building “due to the continued uncertainty concerning completion of repairs.”
Road construction crews work on Third and Court streets on Thursday in Elyria.
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Justice Center employees and attorneys still will be allowed access to the building, according to the release. Citing security concerns, county officials imposed similar restrictions at the building late Thursday morning, causing court hearings to be canceled.
The release also noted that phone service to offices at the Justice Center will remain down until the fiber optic line is replaced.
County Facilities Manager Karen Davis said the concrete-encased fiber optic line, which handles the building’s phone lines, internet and fire alarm, was “shredded” about 9:15 a.m. by heavy equipment being used by a city contractor doing work on Third Street.
Davis said the fire alarm would ring inside the building, but a signal indicating a problem wouldn’t be sent out if the alarm were to go off. She said she planned to assign a county worker to serve “fire watch” duty overnight at the building as a precaution.
County Administrator Jim Cordes said the county had hoped to have the line repaired Thursday night, but there was no guarantee that would happen.
“The damage to the fiber optic cable is extensive,” he said.
Cordes and Davis said the county had sent plans over to K.E. McCartney & Associates, the inspector on the project, so the contractor, Karvo Cos. Inc., would know where the line was and be able to avoid it.
City Engineer Tim Ujvari said his understanding is the plans from the county were given to Karvo by the inspectors.
Ujvari also said the city knew where the fiber optic line was and managed to avoid hitting it when a water line was recently replaced as part of the Third Street project. In that case, he said, the water line was run underneath the concrete protecting the fiber optic cable.
Elyria Safety-Service Director Mary Siwierka said there can be complications when digging for work, especially in older areas like downtown. For instance, she said, the contractors also found a series of old railroad ties during excavation work that no one knew were there.
“You’re digging up an old street, so you never know what you’re going to find,” she said.