JEA to begin Liberty Street power repairs Sunday

Mayor tells riverfront residents without power: 'We're on top of it'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sunday will mark two weeks since a collapsed portion of South Liberty Street knocked out power to a row of neighboring riverfront townhouses, leaving the city of Jacksonville with a huge problem.

This weekend, JEA is expecting to use a helicopter to lift in a new generator to get power back on to the 20 townhomes. 

The work is scheduled to take place between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.  

JEA spokesperson Gerri Boyce tells News4Jax, a crane is usually used to replace transformers of this size, but she says due to structural concerns along Liberty Street, that is not feasible.

On Thursday, residents of the Riverwalk Townhomes were told the city will pay $200,000 for new powerlines and the damage caused by the collapse.

The city is waiting on more inspections that will likely be done next week before beginning repairs to the road and potentially reopening the adjoining parking lot. They have to be assured the area -- which is built on 50-year-old pilings over the river -- is safe before removing the collapsed slabs of roadbed and attempting repairs. 

Mayor Alvin Brown had let his staff handle almost daily information updates on the collapse. On Friday, Brown spoke about efforts to restore electricity and what else the city is doing to fix the mess. 

"We always said we wanted to work with everybody to make sure we come up with a solution to solve the problem," Brown said. "So we came up with a solution last night and City Council president Clay Yarborough and Councilman Robin Lumb worked very hard to make this happen."

Because the situation is now considered a public health and safety issue, the city is using emergency authority to hire a contractor. They are working very closely with JEA to facilitate restoration of power.

"The estimated cost is going to be $200,000, and the city's going to take care of all the expenses, and we're happy about it," Brown said. "We want to take care of our residents; we want to make sure they know we're going to do everything we can to solve this problem sooner rather than later."

But the real expenses have yet to come. The city still has to figure out what caused this latest collapse, then attempt to fix it.  That is going to take time and much more money.

Engineers say they have to demolish the huge slabs that are sitting in the hole so they can get in there safely and determine what to do next.

This isn't the first time this road and parking lot behind the old Duval County Courthouse have had problems. A heavy crane forced a collapse nearly three years ago, and there were problems in the parking lot as well.

That has many people concerned about the safety of the area in general.

"Downtown has a great infrastructure," Brown said. "It's a great city, but sometimes these things happen. To have a vehicle come on the property that's 3 tons over the weight that's supposed to be over there, things happen. But we're on top of it."

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