The Fourth Street parking garage closed Jan. 2 for structural repairs, according to a city press release. The 352-space garage will reopen four to six months after work begins in April.
“The overall structural integrity of the building needs to be reinforced,” said Adam Wason, director of Bloomington’s public works department.
In May 2018, a structural engineering firm, CE Solutions, found concrete degradation and water damage in the garage. The most pressing issues were addressed immediately, while others were put on hold while the city decided whether to demolish the garage and build a new, expanded facility or repair the existing structure.
On Dec. 19, Bloomington’s city council voted down the city administration’s $18.5 million plan to demolish and rebuild the garage, choosing instead to support the $1.1 million plan to repair it.
“We’re disappointed that the garage deteriorated more quickly than its expected life span due to inadequate maintenance,” Mayor John Hamilton said in a press release.
The garage is 33 years old and was expected to last 50 years. Wason said there is not much information from around the time the structure was built, but the city thinks the garage did not receive yearly maintenance for the first 10 to 15 years of its existence.
The repairs in the council-approved plan will address only the high priority issues in CE Solutions’ assessment and give the garage five more years of life. If medium-to-low-priority issues were also addressed, the structure’s life could be extended 10 to 15 years.
Work on the garage will be delayed until April because of temperature concerns, the need for more detailed structural analysis and to find a contractor to perform the repairs, according to the mayor's office.
The Fourth Street garage holds 252 permit spaces and 100 nonpermit spaces. While the structure is under construction, people with permits for the garage may park either in the Convention Center surface lot between College Avenue and Madison Street or the the public parking garages at Seventh and Morton streets and Seventh and Walnut streets.
People without permits may use other other downtown parking options such as metered parking, hourly lots and the 250 free spaces around the city. The alternative locations for people who usually use the Fourth Street garage will be posted at the garage, on the city’s website and through social media.
“We understand that it will be inconvenient for downtown workers and visitors not to be able to park in the Fourth Street garage, but safety comes first,” Hamilton said in the press release.
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