Downtown deck under repair again

Aug. 12, 2013 @ 09:59 PM

For the second time in nearly six years, the city’s Chapel Hill Street parking deck is undergoing a round of costly repairs.

The new work got under way Monday and requires the temporary closure of the deck, which provides most of the parking for City Hall and an assortment of other buildings on the northeast end of the downtown loop.

With a budget of $1.2 million, the project is supposed to check and reverse the deterioration of the deck’s concrete paving and other surfaces. Designers are also upgrading some entrances to improve its accessibility to the handicapped.

An initial round of repairs late in 2007 and early in 2008 focused on structural weaknesses engineers worried could bring about a partial collapse of the facility.

City officials opted then to hold off on addressing the paving and surface problems, in part because construction prices were high and in part because there was talk the deck might end up becoming part of a private-sector development.

Now, however, it’s apparent both that a redevelopment of the site is “unlikely to occur in the near future” and that there’s further price to be paid for waiting, General Services Department Director Joel Reitzer told officials earlier this summer.

The concrete problems – particularly noticeable on the bumpy ramps the deck’s users have to climb to reach its upper levels – are “an exponential problem” that will get worse “at an increasing[ly] faster rate” the longer repairs are postponed, he said.

City Council members greenlighted the project July 25, without debate.

The 5-0 vote gave Reitzer and City Manager Tom Bonfield permission to sign up a contractor, Progressive Contracting Co., to perform the repairs and use a Texas engineering company, Walter P. Moore, to monitor the work.

Progressive is certain to receive $735,995 for its end of the project. The Moore firm is getting $60,000, on top of the $61,500 it was allotted earlier this year to design the repairs.

The budget also includes several contingency reserves. A 2005 bond issue is supplying all but $170,000 of the $1.2 million officials have reserved for the project. The $170,000 is a cash allotment from the city’s capital budget.

The structural repairs of 2007 and 2008 cost $783,900 and featured the addition of carbon-fiber reinforcements to several beams that support the deck’s upper levels.

Officials have asked Progressive Contracting to work from the bottom of the deck up, to allow the facility to reopen in phases as crews finish each level. The strategy is supposed to minimize any inconvenience to deck users along with the loss of parking revenue to the city.

Until they can reopen some of the spaces, officials are asking hourly customers to use surface lots 8 and 14 and the city’s Church Street and Centre parking decks.

The Centre deck is across West Morgan Street from the Durham Convention Center and the Carolina Theatre. The Church Street deck is on East Main Street next door to the county offices.

Lot 8 is on the 200 block of Parrish Street and Lot 14 is on Morgan Street between Mangum and Rigsbee streets.

Officials believe the repairs to the Chapel Hill Street deck will be complete in January.