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Justice center implosion leaves a cloud of doubt

When the old Colorado judicial center at Broadway and 14th was imploded last Sunday, it left a cloud of dust in the air -- and a lingering question from those who remembered that the building's massive mural by Angelo di Benedetto could not be saved because it was created on asbestos board. So was there asbestos in that cloud that wafted over downtown?

No. That's the word from Bill Mosher, managing director of Trammell Crow, which is overseeing the construction of the new Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Complex on the site of the former justice center. "We had fully abated it," Mosher says of any asbestos that remained in the building.

In fact, there was little of the structure left when it was imploded -- and the project managers initially weren't sure they'd even use explosives to bring down the remains. "These days you don't demolish buildings," he explains. Instead, you recycle all the components you can -- but ultimately, they determined that it would be easier to recycle the steel in the building when it was on the ground rather than still in place.

So blowing up the building not only gave the city a good show, but it saved some time -- and considerable stress. "It was a worker-safety issue," Mosher says.

And asbestos-free.

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