The RiverCentre parking ramp in downtown St. Paul will remain closed at least through the weekend as crews inspect the structure after a piece of concrete fell from the ceiling and damaged a parked vehicle.
The Wednesday night incident came as the city is seeking state funding to rebuild the 48-year-old parking ramp. The city of St. Paul reported that the chunk of concrete that fell measured 3 feet by 2 feet, and broke the vehicle's rear window. No one was injured.
"The city of St. Paul has determined that further assessment of the RiverCentre Ramp is in the best interest of our residents," Ricardo Cervantes, director for the city's Department of Safety and Inspections, said in a news release. "While the city has performed monthly inspections and maintenance of the ramp, this temporary closure will allow us to conduct a more comprehensive study to mitigate incidents like this in the future."
According to city officials, the 1,600-stall ramp on Kellogg Boulevard serves more than 2 million people per year. Cervantes told MPR News that the city was performing regular inspections on the ramp prior to Wednesday's incident, in part to check for loose concrete.
"Inspections at the RiverCentre ramp are occurring monthly and there is ongoing work, so as a result of an inspection there would be work orders given to a contractor who would then remove any loose concrete from the ceiling," he said.
The city reported that it has spent more than $15 million over the past 18 years on repairs and maintenance to the parking ramp.
On Tuesday, city and business leaders urged legislators to support $58 million in state bonding to rebuild the ramp. The city has said it would match state funding for the project, which would cost $116 million. The ramp generates an estimated $12 million in state sales tax revenue each year, city officials said, as it serves events at the RiverCentre as well as Xcel Energy Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota and other nearby venues.
"This ramp is located in one of the most highly-traveled areas of the state and replacing it is economically imperative," Christopher Hilger, chairman, president and CEO of Securian Financial Group, said in a Tuesday news release. "Closing the RiverCentre ramp without replacement could mean millions in lost revenue and a parking nightmare in downtown St. Paul."