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Parking deck costs stacking up

December 08, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

An engineering problem is adding about $600,000 to the cost of the city's plans to build a parking deck near South Potomac Street, city officials said Tuesday.

The added cost to the now $3.1 million structure will be shared by the City of Hagerstown, Washington County and Bowman Development Corp., city officials said Tuesday.

Under the plan presented Tuesday, the county would pay $300,000, the city would pay $200,000 and Bowman Development would pay $100,000.

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City Engineer Rodney Tissue explained during the City Council's work session Tuesday that the problem is a lack of solid ground.

During a site investigation this summer, engineers found that the bedrock layer was much farther below the surface than believed. Although rock is at the surface on some parts of the site, it is undetectable at 35 feet below the surface in other areas.

So instead of using fewer, larger and less expensive footings, the parking deck will have to use many smaller, more costly pilings, similar to stilts that are drilled into the ground below, Tissue said.

The city is paying for the bulk of the deck, although the county has pledged $600,000. The deck will be next to a restaurant-retail project being developed by Bowman Development, and is planned as an asset to boost the city's arts district.

City Finance Director Alfred Martin said the additional cost to the city - $200,000 - will result in annual debt payments of $17,000 over 15 years. However, he said that money should be covered by city parking system revenues.

Martin said officials are expecting more parking users and that activity could cover the new cost. He said if the revenues did not cover the expense, an increase in parking fees also could cover the cost.

Tissue also outlined plans for access routes to the parking deck, which will be nestled in the block enclosed by South Potomac, East Antietam, South Locust and East Washington streets.

Tissue said when the deck opens, hopefully by January 2006, officials hope to have one two-way street leading to the deck. However, the main access route - East Washington Street - will only have one-way access for quite awhile.

In 2009, after a lease with the adult bookstore at 23 W. Washington Street has expired, officials plan to work with Bowman Development to demolish that property to allow two-way access, Tissue said.

"Getting rid of that ... adult bookstore is really worth every nickel that we're paying," Mayor William M. Breichner said.

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