Cracked beam halts work at Pittsburgh convention center

Construction was halted Monday in a section of Pittsburgh’s new convention center when a worker discovered hairline cracks in a steel I-beam and a few missing bolts.

The Sports & Exhibition Authority, a city-county agency that’s building the convention center, called in structural engineers to examine the area Tuesday. Stephen Leeper, director of SEA, said in a press conference the steel beam and a cable in question are for decoration only and don’t hold up the roof, walls or floors.

The cracks are located along a third-floor ceiling where the half-inch steel cable attaches to the 36-inch beam. To be on the safe side, work was halted at the northeastern corner of the building, Leeper said. Some workers shifted to tasks in other parts of the structure and some went home.

Portions of the $375 million convention center are already open to the public. Fifteen trusses that hold up a sloping, silver roof support the building.

A bad connection caused one of the giant trusses to collapse in February 2002, killing a construction worker.

Leeper said he expects the current problem to be corrected in a few days.