Materials not seen as cause of collapse at garage site

Building process blamed by Westminster official

April 11, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

An error in the building process appears to be the cause of the partial collapse last week of a parking garage under construction in downtown Westminster, the city official overseeing the project said yesterday.

Engineering consultants who have advised the city throughout construction of the $2.85 million Longwell garage found no problem with the concrete or the crane that was used to lower 30-ton slabs into place, said Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works.

"After informed discussions with our engineers and the contractor, we know it is not any sort of material failure in the pre-cast concrete or any problem with the crane," Beyard said. "We feel certain there was something wrong" with the process."

Beyard said he would not provide any more details of the error until the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health program, which is investigating the accident, issues a report with an official cause.

A concrete slab that would form a portion of the garage's upper-level parking deck gave way while a crane was lowering it into place shortly after 10 a.m. April 3. A portion of the slab crashed to the ground, injuring two workers who were on the garage's top deck at the time. Both were treated and released after being transported by helicopter to Shock Trauma in Baltimore. A third worker received minor injuries and was released after being treated at Carroll County General Hospital.

MOSH officials said yesterday that they have approved the city's cleanup plan.

The plan outlines the disassembly and removal of nine damaged sections of concrete or brick in the garage.

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