March 15, 2002page 5 of 36

Past maintenance failures close spaces in deck , force future repairs

By Jody Shaw
News Editor
March 15, 2002


Work began on the student center parking deck the Friday before spring break to stabilize concrete columns that showed signs of potential problems. Intensive repairs will begin at the end of the semester.

Auxiliary Services administrators recently added metal supports to the 915-space student center parking deck after they learned that a number of the deck's columns would require repairs to increase their stability.

Administrators learned of the problems after a routine maintenance inspection by a structural engineering group discovered problems with the reinforcement bar inside four of the deck's concrete columns.

"If we did not have somebody out there looking at [the columns] to do this repair work, we might have never seen [the problems]," said Rosalind Meyers, Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services.

The inspection was being conducted as part of a Department of Parking plan to inspect all parking facilities on campus for maintenance needs on a regular basis.

Though Director of Parking Rod Weis and Meyers knew the deck would need maintenance this year, they were unaware that it would require actions as soon as it did. Several weeks ago, the engineering firm wrote its plan for summer deck maintenance, but when the group returned for a second inspection on the Wednesday before spring break, it noticed changes in the columns that required immediate attention.

The next day, the structural engineer and two civil engineers met with Auxiliary Services officials. They decided to close immediately the area of the parking deck with the faulty columns, and, on Friday morning, students and staff were directed to new locations in the deck.

Thanks to the temporary supports put in place, the deck remains usable for students, faculty and staff members who hold A05 permits.

"There is no danger now that we have everything shored up. We have the weight taken off of the affected areas," said Meyers.

A number of adjustments have been made to ensure that permit holders receive as little inconvenience as possible.

"We've lost about 160 parking spaces, and it has caused some problems because the former entrances cannot be used; only the exits can be used," said Meyers.

"Because of this, we realize that there may be people going into the deck without permits, so we are doing very aggressive enforcement in the deck. If people are parking in there without a permit, they will be towed, because it's not fair to individuals who have permits who have already been inconvenienced."

Once the deck fills, A05 permit holders can park in street spaces on Tech parkway.

"We know this isn't the most convenient, but it is the best we can do given the circumstances," said Meyers.

Visitor parking, which used to occupy a portion of the deck's lowest level has been removed. Visitors can still park in the student center surface lot, but once it fills, visitors are directed to the north campus parking deck and other locations on campus.

Though officials considered starting full repairs on the deck immediately, they decided that such repairs might result in losing more of the deck's spaces-something they could not consider with eight weeks remaining in the semester. Instead, Auxiliary Services will bid out the repairs to a number of firms in the area, which will also enable them to save money by obtaining the repairs at a lower cost.

"If it were a real emergency, we would have to get the work done right away, and when you have to go right out and hire a contractor, you usually don't get the best price," said Meyers.

Once started, Weis expects the repairs to take about thirty days.

"This is not a complicated situation," said Weis.

The problems in the deck came, in part, because of a lack of routine maintenance in the early life of the deck, which was built in 1988. Until a few years ago, the Department of Parking did not have a long-term maintenance plan, and, therefore, much needed work went unnoticed and undone.

With Weis at the reins, however, Parking has a master plan for upkeep and maintenance of all of its facilities, which led to the uncovering of the current problem.

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