Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Garage evaluation results yield ‘areas of concern’

Published in: The Globe
Originally published: December 8, 2010
By Kalea Hall and Katie Janicik 

After being evaluated by A & A Consultants Inc. in 2009, a number of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority's garages earned a rating of less than fair, meaning major repairs are needed.
Due to the fact that they drive to school, many student commuters are voicing their concerns about the garages and the fact that their conditions are not quite up to par.
"Some of the other garages they look a little rundown, and I always feel a little hesitate to even walk inside them. I think it's because they are not as well-lit as the one on Boulevard of the Allies," said Yip, senior secondary education major.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority operates 10 parking garages, 34 off-street surface parking lots, one attended parking plaza and all on street parking spaces, according to the Parking Authority's website.
According to the Parking Authority Director of Administration and Pittsburgh Parking Court, Anthony Boule, MPA, each year all of their parking assets are inspected by an "independent" company.
"Areas of concern are identified and the Authority moves to remove the concerns," Boule said in a written statement on behalf of the Parking Authority.
The report on the Fort-Duquesne and Sixth-Street Bridge Garage, located on 126th street, received a score of poor because they were several observations made on the looseness of columns with and the cracked insulation. There is also a beam that connects both sides of the garage has a crack that is 2-3" wide, allowing steel to be exposed.
An analysis of Oliver Garage, located on 301 Fifth Avenue, received a score of fair because of minor cracking and spalling of walls and ceilings to missing ceiling panels and "detached" insulation.
The the report on the Smithfiled-Liberty Garage, located at 629 Smithfield St., received a score of poor because of cracked walls and columns, damaged brick, and spalled walls.  In a more severe case, in the north-eastern stairwell of the garage there is a large portion of ceiling that "looks loose and may fall on vehicles parked underneath,"  according to the report.
The report on the Ninth Street and Penn Avenue Garage, located on 136 Ninth St.,  received a score of fair of the minor, moderate, and severe cracking and spalling of walls, floors, curbs and columns. On the level three of the garage, a concrete column is missing "a good chunk" of concrete. 
The report of the Forbes-Semple Garage, located at 210 Meyran Ave in Oakland, received a score of fair because many of the levels the curbs, sidewalks, floors, walls and ceilings are cracked.  The report also states on level 8 the steel elements are starting to corrode or disintegrate. Levels six and seven are still in the construction process.
The report on the First Avenue Garage, located at 600 First Ave., received a score of good, but listed spalling and cracking of concrete. The recommendations are mostly just to remove loose material on the walls and around the elevator areas. 
The report on the Third Avenue Garage, located at 238 Fourth Ave., received a score of poor because there are various amounts of loose material scattered throughout the garage, and that the steel beams on the sides of the elevator enclosure are rusted.  On level 4 of the garage the south-eastern corner of this garage is "heavily spalled" and the eastern wall is separated from the rest of the walls.
The report of the Mellon Square Garage, located at 500 Smithfield St., received a score of fair because of spalling throughout the interior and exterior of this garage and the cracking on some of the beams throughout the garage.
The report on the Shadyside Garage, located at 714 Bellefronte St., received a score of good, but there are various beams throughout the garage suffer "light" to "moderate" rusting.
While debating what to do about the city's pension crisis, City Council brought up the issue of the conditions of these garages at various meetings.  The Pittsburgh Parking Authority did not designate how much it would cost in order fix all of the garages, or if they need to be brought up to code.
"Facility preventive maintenance is an on-going process at the Authority," Boule said in a written statement on behalf of the Parking Authority.
With the deteriorating conditions of these garages, some student commuters and beginning to speak out about their concerns.
Latoya Gibson, a senior criminal justice major, says she is "for the most part" satisfied with condition of the Third Avenue garage that she parks in. Her only concern is how overcrowded the garages can become. She hopes that there will be better alternative to parking in the future.
"I wish Point Park had a parking lot and gave us parking passes," Gibson said.
Angie Mackey, sophomore early childhood education major, who also parks in the Third Avenue garage, agrees with Gibson about the garage being overcrowded.
"They are some of them are not well-lit," Mackey added. "The supports look like they are pretty weak."
Yip says some of the other garages besides the Boulevard of the Allies garage have "paint chipping all the time and they are not as well lit."
"The one by Point Park is always cheaper, but not rundown," Yip said. "They let you go in an out. I have only had a problem once and I have been parking there two years now, so they are pretty good."

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