January 22, 2001

Concrete tests won't cause further delays, officials say

by Josh Renaud
senior editor

Mutsumi Igarashi

Concern over the quality of concrete slabs used in the new East Drive parking garage will not delay its opening, University officials said on Friday.

The University had requested that Tarlton Corp., the contractor for the garage project, use concrete with a high concentration of micro-silicates said Reinhard Schuster, vice chancellor for Administrative Services. This concrete mix is more dense than regular concrete, and is thus better able to protect the steel reinforcement bars inside of it from chlorides that might seep into it.

Some of the concrete slabs in the East Drive Parking Garage failed a recent chloride test, sparking some concern, Schuster said. The contractor assured the University that the test results would improve over time as the concrete cured.

"We're going to give [Tarlton] time to run all their tests and do whatever they have to do," Schuster said. "If it still doesn't pass, then we're going to be talk about adding some sort of epoxy coating over it. We'll get it there one way or another."

The garage is scheduled to open Feb. 23, said Tom Royster, senior construction project manager. The tests will take 90 days, which was cause for concern, he said, but that won't stop the opening of the garage.

If there is a need for additional parking, then the garage will be opened while the University awaits the test results, said Sam Darandari, director of Campus Planning and Construction.

"We're going to open the garage, and if the tests come up negative, then we'll [start] the sealing of the garage decks at that point," Royster said. If they have to "put the sealant down, they're going to power-spray those decks, prior to the sealing. The oil and the salts that the cars bring in won't be a factor."

Royster said the garage had other safeguards to protect the steel inside the concrete. The reinforcement bar is two inches below the surface of the concrete, he said, and the rebar itself is coated.

Originally the garage was slated to open in December. Royster said the project had been delayed because the contractor didn't order certain materials in time. The contractor will absorb any extra costs caused by the delay, he said.

When the East Drive Parking Garage opens, it will be very similar to its sister garage on West Drive, Royster said. The East Drive garage, though, will have some new features like a car-counter that indicates if the garage is full, as well as an exposed elevator that will allow passengers to look out on the campus as they ride it, Royster said. The garage's first level will be dedicated to housing certain maintenance vehicles.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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