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St. Paul’s RiverCentre parking ramp reopens after repairs

November 14, 2018 GMT

The RiverCentre ramp in St. Paul reopened Tuesday after being shut down for six months for emergency repairs.

Officials closed the nearly 50-year-old ramp on Kellogg Boulevard in May after a slab of concrete measuring 3 feet by 2 feet fell from the ceiling and struck a parked car. No one was hurt.

Over the summer and early fall, crews made repairs and added safety measures that went beyond recommendations. That included installing safety netting on every inch of ceiling over parking areas, walkways and entrance and exit ramps to guard against concrete that may come loose, Visit St. Paul and the RiverCentre Authority President and CEO Terry Mattson said Wednesday.

The total bill, including lost revenue when visitors and contract parkers were directed to other downtown ramps and lots, came to about $2 million. The St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections on Tuesday deemed the ramp structurally sound and safe for use.

We are fully open, Mattson said. It is a very safe ramp. Its good to go.

But the eight-story 1,600-stall ramp built in 1970 is nearing the end of its useful life. In 2015, city engineers found some structural deficiencies. They also found the ramps flat design does not allow for adequate floor drainage and that most of its mechanical, electrical and operational systems were in original or poor condition. Officials at that time recommended demolishing the ramp and building a new one by 2020.

Last year, the city unsuccessfully tried to secure $58 million in state funding to pay for a new ramp. The city would have kicked in a matching amount.

Mattson said the plan is still to somehow replace the city-owned ramp used by millions of people each year. The recent repairs work for now, but they are not a long-term solution, he said.

The return on investment is very low and we need that ramp to be in business, he said. Its critical to running a convention center.

Tim Harlow 612-673-7768