Van Norman, city made right choice in evaluating parking garages
When news surfaced about two weeks ago of the hole that caused the upper two levels of the city’s parking garage on Mulberry and Clay streets to be closed, I was a little shocked.
The hole formed near a seam in the concrete in the middle of the driving lane just as drivers reach the fourth level, which is near the crosswalk that leads to retail on Washington Street.
I had used the upper level of the parking garage and the convenient walkway to downtown businesses that juts out just in front of Willingham’s not too long before the hole was discovered.
I admit, like many others who have enjoyed growing up in the South where most drive to destinations with ample parking, the multiple turns it takes to get to the upper level of that parking garage sometimes seem like a chore, especially when there is usually parallel parking available on Washingon Street.
But once you make those turns, reach the upper level and park, however, the short walk to the center of downtown retail development is pretty convenient.
And the reality is a handful of Americans who live in cities or in apartment complexes, some of which have much taller garages, would find all the parking available in downtown Vicksburg, whether on the street or in a garage, pretty convenient.
The city closed the upper two levels of the four-level garage the day the damage was discovered, on Feb. 16, and after their maintenance crew concluded the hole could be the start of a much larger issue and possible collapse of some of the parking deck into levels below.
Their quick attention to the public’s safety was needed and is appreciated.
Now, quick and swift action needs to take place to remedy the likely structural damage in the garage, ensuring safe usage for the public as well as Margaritaville Hotel, which uses that garage as overflow and additional parking for their guests, some of which are in town for events held at the Vicksburg Convention Center.
Plans to fully evaluate the problem are underway.
Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said Stantec Engineering has been asked to propose a contract to have specialists not only review the damage in the north parking garage but to also provide a thorough evaluation of both the north and south garages located on Mulberry Street.
“These (garages) were built back in the early 70s and basically had not had any maintenance since then and I think it’s time we bite the bullet and do something,” Van Norman is quoted as saying in our article that published on Feb. 25. “[Stantec] is going to get a specialist in here to look at everything, both parking garages. Those things are getting old.”
I hope the city and Stantec will move swiftly in their evaluation and maintenance of this garage. It is used by many, especially employees of downtown businesses, and is a community asset that needs to be maintained.
Catherine Boone Hadaway is publisher of The Vicksburg Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.