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Rain slows construction on Gainesville's parking deck, public safety building

POSTED: June 4, 2009 12:08 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Work is continuing at the new city of Gainesville Public Safety Building.

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While the recent rain may be good for Lake Lanier, it doesn’t help construction projects on a deadline.

Two of Gainesville’s biggest construction projects, the Public Safety Facility and the Georgia Mountains Center parking deck, have been delayed by the wetter-than-normal weather.

Gainesville’s rainfall has been above average for the past couple of months. In May, the city’s rainfall totals were nearly an inch above the 30-year average, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather substantially improved the levels of Lake Lanier, bringing the reservoir from nearly 20 feet below full pool to less than five feet shy of the lake’s prime height, 1,071 feet above sea level.

But the rain substantially delayed construction at the downtown parking deck and the public safety facility, because both are in the foundation stages, according to Project Manager Jarrett Nash.

Contractors at the site of the city’s future Public Safety Facility should be back on schedule by late July, but the completion of the parking deck may be pushed back by two months.

Original plans called for the $6.85 million project to be complete in July, but because of the rain and some issues with concrete, Nash said the deck may not be ready until at least September.

Nash said a "decent rain event" that may only last 30 minutes or an hour puts contractors at the parking deck, Optum Construction, behind about two days because they have to wait for the dirt to dry and replace wet dirt with dry dirt before moving forward.

"Basically, you have a bunch of swimming pools dug out there," Nash said.

But an issue with concrete in the deck’s foundation has also proved to be a hindrance to its progress, Nash said. Once some of the concrete was poured, tests showed that its strength was low in a certain area, Nash said. Contractors are now working to remove that portion of the concrete and replace it.

If that concrete meets specifications and the rain holds off, Nash said the contractors will likely be ready to install the pre-cast structures for the parking deck’s skeleton by June 22.

When complete, the four-level deck will accommodate 419 vehicles, and is designed to allow growth to a six-level deck.

The slow progress on the project extends the time that one lane of traffic is closed to motorists on Main Street from Spring Street to Broad Street and that motorists have to find parking in the Hall County parking deck and elsewhere downtown.

But Nash said the delay is not costing the city any extra money and is a fair trade for the drought-healing rains.

"I’ll trade the rain for a slow project after the last few years we’ve had," Nash said. "It’s nice to have the lake back."



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