State office building down for at least another week

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 11:40pm

The Andrew Johnson Tower, home to Tennessee's Department of Education and several other state offices, will remain out of service for at least one more week.

The facility, located at 710 James Robertson Parkway near Bicentennial Mall, sustained heavy damage in the flooding of May 1-2 and has been closed ever since. The most recent estimate from officials dealing with the situation is that it may reopen by May 24 — "which is better than what we had been hearing," in the words of Amanda Anderson, a spokesperson for the Department of Education.

Lola Potter, speaking on behalf of the General Services department that is responsible for state buildings, said late Friday that the Nashville Electric Service had found critical damage to wiring in the basement of the office building and mandated the complete replacement of that circuitry.

Potter said the building's shutdown has displaced personnel from several state entities, including the departments of Commerce and Insurance, Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, and Health, as well as the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth and Tennessee Human Rights Commission.

Officials said much of the education staff has moved to the former campus of the Tennessee Preparatory School, off Murfreesboro Road. Anderson and Potter both said the affected agencies have tried to avoid disrupting their service to the public by having their telephones forwarded to temporary quarters and working via email as much as possible.