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State College Planning for Nearly $4 Million in Repairs to Parking Garages over 3 Years

State College’s four public parking structures are in need of nearly $4 million in repairs over three years and a total of about $7.3 million over the next decade, according to a report presented at Monday night’s borough council meeting.

Walker Consultants conducted in 2020 a condition appraisal of the Beaver Avenue, Fraser Street and Pugh Street garages and the McAllister Street Deck and identified structural, waterproofing, facade, mechanical system and miscellaneous needs for each. The borough is required to have a registered engineer certify to Centre Region Code Administration every seven years that each structure can support code-required loads.

Ed Holmes, State College purchasing director and risk manager, said the borough is developing a three-year plan for more immediate needs and an asset management plan for years four through 10 to address longer-term issues.

“The first three years are things we can reasonably anticipate, things that Walker can plan for and actually design repairs for,” Holmes said.

With the parking fund seeing significant revenue declines over the past year as a result of COVID-19 impacts, the borough would pay for the three-year plan through refinancing about $4.7 million in 2016 debt and new borrowing.

“These are expenses that are going to be necessary to maintain these vital parking assets,” Holmes said. “We will find it necessary to, in order to fund this project, to borrow money. We’d like to not be in this position obviously, but this will be one of the casualties of COVID is the fund reserves in the parking fund.”

Chris Gibbons, of Concordia Public Financing, said interest rates remain historically low.

“I know nobody wants to borrow, but if you’re going to borrow now is a good time to do it,” he said.

At its March 15 meeting, council will vote on whether to authorize the borrowing and award a contract to design the repairs designated for 2021.

Holmes said he is hopeful that this year’s work will take place over the summer and not extend into the fall. Council would vote on authorizing 2022 work in January.

“When you build a garage, you’re buying high maintenance because they’re open to weather 365 days of the year,” Councilman Peter Marshall said. “There’s no way to avoid high maintenance cost.”

Here’s a breakdown of the four facilities, the repairs needed through 2023 and the cost.

Beaver Avenue Garage

Built in 2005, the 195,000-square-foot garage has 529 parking spaces. Walker rated the garage as in good condition overall “with the exception of the thin brick on façade columns, which is in poor condition and requires removal.”

Repairs:

  • Loose and cracked thin brick on the perimeter columns
  • Isolated areas of loose overhead concrete
  • Isolated areas of stair tread spalling
  • Isolated map cracking on columns
  • Vertical joint seal replacement

Cost: $1,207,000

Fraser Street Garage

Built in 1985, the 154,000-square-foot garage has 335 spaces. Walker rated the garage as being “in fair to good condition with occasional structural repairs required and areas of recommended waterproofing upgrade and
maintenance.”

Repairs:

  • Small cracks in some of the post-tensioned beams
  • One stair tower has a slight wall separation from vertical joint 
  • Sharp changes in elevation require painting for pedestrian safety
  • Post-tensioned floor slab patches
  • Cracked concrete columns need injection grouting
  • Curb spalls

Cost: $564,000 through 2023

Pugh Street Garage

Built in 1972, the 158,000-square-foot garage has 491 spaces. Walker reported the garage “is in fair condition with the exception of the roof level, which has areas of low concrete strength and edge of slab deterioration.”

Repairs:

  • Low compressive strength concrete; additional testing is required
  • Loose overhead concrete
  • Drainage system failures that need to be addressed
  • Stair nosings and metal stair pans need to be sandblasted and repainted

Cost: $1,428,750

McAllister Street Deck

Built in 1991, the 66,000-square-foot structure has 218 spaces. Walker reported it “is in fair condition with isolated areas in poor condition requiring structural repair and waterproofing.”

Repairs:

  • Spalling concrete on the roof level
  • Broken shear connections
  • Slab cracking, particularly on roof level
  • Traffic topping failures
  • Tee flange cracking
  • Expansion joints and joint sealants throughout the facility

Cost: $645,000

While recommended repairs are identified through 2029, it’s likely that the borough will be planning to replace one of the garages long before then.

Talks of replacing the now 49-year-old Pugh Street garage date back at least a decade when it already appeared to be nearing the end of its useful life. The borough subsequently identified repairs to extend its life, but those were a stop-gap and won’t last much longer.

“We, I think, would expect that we have maybe another seven, eight years, maybe as many as 10 depending on the circumstances, but I don’t think we can wait until we reach that absolute deadline to act,” Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said. “We have to be in a position to prepare for the replacement of Pugh Street and begin to make those plans. It’s not urgent in ’21 but I think it is important for us to begin to do that planning.”

“There is no book on a 50-year-old parking garage,” Holmes added. “It’s a testament to the way we’ve maintained this structure for all that time. But we are forging new territory here and I think we just have to be prepared for the fact that it’s much closer to the end of its time than it is to the beginning.”