June 23, 2018
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Courts, probation office in Bangor federal building closed for asbestos testing

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The U.S. District Court and U.S. Bankruptcy Court, located on the third floor of the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building on Harlow Street were closed Friday as a precautionary measure for asbestos testing.

Most of the offices on lower floors, including those of the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, were open.

The office of U.S. Probation and Pre-trial Services, located on the second floor, was closed. It is part of the federal court system.

The courts and probation office are expected to reopen Monday, according to information on the court system’s website.

“As part of our ongoing renovation project, a licensed abatement contractor removed commonly used older asbestos-containing commercial ceiling tiles,” a posting on the court’s website said. “The required post-construction testing showed surface contamination on windowsills near the contained construction location, although no airborne asbestos was detected.”

An additional professional abatement assessment and follow-up tests were expected to be conducted before the building would be reopened.

The federal building is undergoing a $53 million renovation funded with stimulus funds. Plans include the installation of a new heating and cooling system, the replacement of windows, asbestos abatement and the renovation of the first-floor area where the Bangor post office was located for many years.

The cost of construction, which began in September, is estimated at $33.88 million, with the remaining money going toward design services, according to the General Services Administration.

Construction for the entire project is expected to be completed in three years and three months, Paula M. Santangelo, public affairs officer for the GSA’s regional office in Boston, said last year.

“The building will be fully occupied by federal tenants at the completion of the project in 2013,” she said in September in an e-mail. Plans call for much of the Social Security Administration office, now on the second floor, to be relocated permanently to the first floor, where the post office was located. The U.S. Postal Service now is located the former Bangor District Courthouse on Hammond Street.

The majority of the upgrades to the federal building will not be visible from the sidewalk, according to information about the project released by the GSA in June 2010. Public entrances will be reduced from two to one, so everyone who enters the building, except employees, will pass through a security station that has a metal detector and X-ray machine.

Upgrades to improve energy efficiency will reduce water consumption by 40 percent and energy use by 30 percent, the GSA said last year. In addition to the geothermal heating and cooling system, advanced heating, cooling and lighting controls will be installed.

The building will be made compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act through renovations to public restrooms and the front plaza slope and the proper placement of elevator controls and door hardware, according to previous reports.

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