OGDEN — In the wake of the March 18 earthquake that shook Utah, the aging parking garage abutting the Weber Center in downtown Ogden has been closed.
What’s more, although demolition plans had already been in the works for the structure that largely served employees of Weber County government, that timeline has now been expedited. Officials say the deteriorating structure will now probably be torn down by summer’s end.
Bryce Taylor, property management director for Weber County, was in the county office at the base of the garage that morning when the 5.7-magnitude quake struck. He says he can typically hear and feel cars rumbling above as they pass, and that’s what he initially thought was happening. But this time the sensation lasted longer than usual, giving pause to him and the others with him for an early-morning meeting.
“It just kind of kept going,” he said. “You could feel the moving and we all moved out at that point.”
About six county workers in all were in the property management and operations office, including Taylor, and after the shaking stopped, they looked around the old garage for new damage. Nothing jumped out, but as a precaution county leaders decided to shut the three-level, 237-stall structure to the public that same day.
“We just decided it was as good a day as any,” said Commissioner Gage Froerer. Now, yellow tape and orange cones block entry, and Froerer said other arrangements have been made for county workers and other Weber Center occupants accustomed to parking there.
“They felt that thing moan and groan. They felt that thing move a little bit,” said Commissioner Scott Jenkins.
Aside from closing the garage, county officials decided to relocate the property management and operations employees to other space inside the Weber Center — just to the west at the northeast corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard. That move should occur soon.
“We felt maybe we had pushed our luck a little too far,” Jenkins said.
County officials have been debating demolition of the parking structure in earnest since at least 2017, and bids are now being sought for the work, Jenkins said. Work to remove the structure could start in May, he estimates, and be done by the latter part of the summer.
Initially, the empty space will most likely be turned into a parking area, but longer-term plans still have to be pinpointed. County officials had sought proposals for use of the space from the private sector, but no solid plans came of the effort.
Among the issues in the parking facility are cracking concrete and corrosion of some of the structure’s reinforcement, although its load-carrying capacity hasn’t been significantly compromised, according to a county report.