A contractor dispute may mean the new Dallas County medical examiner's building stays vacant a little longer.
A new Dallas County Medical Examiner building that was accepted by the county last May may sit vacant for another two months.
The county is in a dispute with the contractor over the new building at 2355 Stemmons Freeway in Dallas.
Meanwhile, Dallas County’s crime scene investigators remain in a cramped old building near Parkland Hospital that was built in the late '60s.
"There was no such thing as personal computers or desktops," said Dr. Jeffrey Barnard, the county's medical examiner. "Technology in terms of evaluation of cases and working up cases is certainly far different."
In the old building, boxes are stacked in hallways because of a lack of storage space. Lab experts are squeezed together. The building has just one large cooler for all of the Dallas County’s deceased.
Workers shuttle between floors to complete lab tests.
"Certain types of functions developed after building, and so then you have to make the building fit to your function, and a lot of times that becomes inefficient," Barnard said.
The new $45 million building is more than twice as large. But County Commissioner John Wiley Price said there have been problems with ventilation and excessive moisture on the roof.
"I’ve been here over 25 years, and I’ve never seen the kind of issues that we’re having to deal with," Price said. "It’s been just unbelievable."
The contractor denied any failure in the project but said some changes were requested after construction began.
"McCarthy finished this project on time and has no outstanding issues with Dallas County on this project," said a statement issued by a project director with McCarthy Building Companies.
But Price said the building may not be ready to use until June, and he said that the county would pressure the contractor to make things right.
"We pay for a design product, a finished product, and we don’t feel like we’ve gotten it," Price said.