Victims of the Surfside condo collapse were granted access to physical evidence in the case after the federal government refused to do so.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) sent a letter to the Miami Police Department on Friday saying a more “intense phase of its investigation” was beginning and it would “maintain exclusive custody” of evidence from the collapse that is stored in a warehouse, the Miami Herald reported.

NIST said express permission would be needed by the agency to inspect and test the evidence.

The judge in the case was shocked at the federal government’s attempt to block access after he previously issued a subpoena that would let all parties examine the evidence.

“I’m somewhat shocked, to be frank, that a federal agency would attempt to say that these civil litigants should be precluded from access to this evidence until we’re done with our investigation two to three years from now,” Judge Michael Hanzman said in a Zoom hearing Friday, according to the local outlet. “They have the luxury of time. But these victims and these parties do not.

“This is material evidence ... that has been subpoenaed in this case,” Hanzman added. “I’m ordering that this evidence be made available to these litigants.”

Before the federal government took over, the county government had indicated it had reservations about sharing evidence due to the Miami Police Department’s active investigation into the collapse.

An attorney for the county said giving access to the evidence for testing would “compromise” the investigation in court.

The attorneys for the victims from the collapse that killed 98 people praised the judge’s decision, saying “the victims can’t be made to wait for years to gain access to critical evidence.”

A spokesperson for NIST said after the judge’s decision the agency has the authority to preserve evidence and has “therefore assumed custody and control of the evidence and will continue to cooperate while maintaining the integrity of its investigation.”

The judge said the trial will occur in March 2023, almost two years after the collapse, and the parties need to come up with a plan to share evidence by next Friday’s hearing.

“Since the tragic collapse in Surfside, Miami-Dade County has been working collaboratively with all parties and agencies involved to help ensure as speedy a process as possible so families and survivors may receive the compensation they deserve and a comprehensive investigation may be completed to avoid similar tragedies," the county mayor’s office said following the hearing. "We will continue to work with federal agencies, the court, and the families and survivors as the investigation continues."

The Hill has reached out to an attorney for the victims for comment.