August 2011
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Riverfront Village falling apart

In June 2010, the City Council voted to replace the steps up to the Riverfront Village platform because they were all rusted out. That was blamed on the salt used to melt ice on the steps in the winter, and the basic design of the steps which apparently had insufficient drainage. Now it’s the concrete platform itself that’s falling apart — literally:

Concrete fell from underneath the Riverfront Village platform onto the parking lot below

Close-up of exposed rebar where concrete has fallen away

Hard to blame this on ice-melt, since, to my knowledge, the City isn’t salting the underside of the platform in the winter. This week’s Issues Update gives some more detail:

A portion of concrete fell from the ceiling of the parking deck about two weeks ago onto a car causing minor damage to the vehicle. National Garages was contacted and advised staff of this incident. In response, staff decided to check the other areas of the garage and have determined there were sections of loose concrete that could potentially separate from the structure and could fall. Currently, staff is removing loose concrete to avoid future incidents. As these areas are exposed, we will engage a structural engineer to review the work. We will also be working to remove some of the rust from the steel and repaint. Sealing these areas with new concrete is not yet planned as we need to determine the full scope and find a contractor to perform this work. We will most likely need to bring this forward to City Council as the costs will exceed $10,000.

Riverfront Village is twelve years old. Twelve years old and already falling apart. This has to be an embarrassment to the contractor/sub-contractor responsible for building this platform. It should be, anyway. Hopefully the City will take the time to look up who did the work originally and at least make sure they don’t hire the same company to fix it.

Best-case scenario: the structural engineer finds that the whole structure is unsound and must be razed. No offense to the tax-paying businesses on the platform; I’d like to see them stay in business downtown. But the platform never should have been built, and the riverfront would be better off without it. There are plenty of places nearby for the restaurants to relocate . . . like the retail space promised on Water Street by the new museum.

9 comments to Riverfront Village falling apart

  • […] 22, 2011 Posted by Jerry Zarley Tweet Peoria — Riverfront Village falling apart (Peoria Chronicle) In June 2010, the City Council voted to replace the steps up to the Riverfront Village platform […]

  • joe

    I had brought this issue up many times in the past when the stairs were being discussed. I believe this is from the salt and poor maintenance by the city over the years (using rock salt that was meant for the roads on the deck). This is the same thing that happened to the Sears deck. I remember walking up there during the winter and seeing big chunks of salt laying everywhere. When it rains it dissolves and soaks into the concrete and starts corroding the steel rebar inside. The rusting rebar expands and blows the concrete out. There may be a technical term for this but that is basically what has happened. A few years ago the top surface of the deck had to be ground down because the surface of the concrete had been damaged by the salt so bad it was falling apart. I really don’t think the contractor is to blame for this. Concrete and parking decks are not maintenance free. Just like a building they need constant and proper maintenance.

  • Joe — Thanks for the comment. You’re right that the rebar can rust due to the chlorides in salt finding their way through cracks and pores in the concrete; then the corrosion causes expansion, which then leads to the concrete cracking and eventually falling away. However, I would assume the salt is being applied to the top of the platform, not the bottom, and it’s the very bottom of the platform that is breaking away. I have a hard time believing that this amount of corrosion this deep in the structure took place in just 12 years, unless there are other exacerbating factors, such as poor-quality concrete, or inadequate curing, or something. Not to mention that these are professionals who know the climate of central Illinois — did they use materials and methods to slow/mitigate the effects of corrosion, such as using hot-dip galvanized rebar?

    You may be right, as the City certainly doesn’t have a good track record on maintenance of its infrastructure. It’s possible that the contractor is not to blame. It may simply be the design itself — clearly the purpose of the deck was to keep the businesses on top safe from flooding. Maybe the wrong materials were specified for this type of environment in the first place. Still, I’m suspicious. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.

  • joe

    The platform was precast sections that were trucked in and installed. This platform was built a couple years prior to the parking deck at 401 Water which used a similiar type of construction. That deck still looks as good as it did when it was built 11 years ago. The difference is it was maintained and the proper ice melt was used.

  • joe

    The bad thing is it is like a cancer. Once that rebar starts decaying you might be able to patch it but replacement is really the only way to cure it. The life span of the platform has been shortened.

  • UnclePugsly

    Who is responsible for maintaining the deck? Perhaps they can explain further if proper maintenace was done over the years including using the right kind of salt fro ice melt?

    Given the situation with the stairs, I suspect inferior materials were spec’d to save money on construction costs up front – Pay me now, or pay me later.

  • New Voice

    Arent these Riverfront buildings, steps, etc., slated to become part of the Peoria Museum’s first major exhibit?

  • Mahkno

    Tear it down and restore the park that was there. I am sure Joe’s crab shack can find another space in the area…. warehouse district?