Lifting of sunken welcome center expected to be completed Tuesday
MORGAN CITY, La. — Work began Wednesday to lift the Cajun Coast Welcome and Interpretive Center to its original height, before it sank several feet June 14, 2012, and the lifting phase is expected to be complete by Tuesday.
Workers with Expert House Movers Inc., the company lifting and repairing the building, lifted the building slightly Wednesday and lifted the building about 20 inches Thursday, said John Matyiko, owner of Expert House Movers.
When the building sank June 14, the lowest spot sank to about 4.5 feet below the original height, Matyiko said. To lift the building workers drove segmented “push piers” into the ground at 228 different spots around the building for a total depth of 110 to 120 feet at each spot.
A unified hydraulic jacking system is used to lift the building utilizing the 228 push pier sites around the building to achieve the lift.
“The roof’s straightening out and everything’s kind of getting back into kilter,” Matyiko said of the lifting process. On Friday, workers were driving extra piles to level the building before they drove the end piles on each end of the building in order to lift it, he said. Over the weekend, the building was lifted about another foot, Matyiko said.
As of Monday morning, the building had been lifted to within 13.5 inches of the original height. Matyiko said by the end of day the lift will be nearly complete.
After the lifting process is finished, EHM workers will have to brace the piles, which will involve some welding, he said. EHM will also finish reconstructing the building, which should be finished in July, Matyiko said.
Cajun Coast Executive Director Carrie Stansbury said after EHM completes work on the building that work on the parking lot will have to be finished before the building can open. Stansbury did not give a date for when the building might be opened.
Tuesday will mark the 11-month anniversary of the building’s sinking. “That’s remarkable to get this done that fast,” Cajun Coast attorney Gary McGoffin said.