City seeks solution for O’Donnell parking structure

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O’Donnell Parking structure has been closed and will remain closed until repairs are made to the building. Photo by Brittany McGrail / Brittany.mcgrail@marquette.edu

Marquette’s engineers who built O’Donnell Hall can take a bow, knowing they have constructed a structurally sound residence hall that has withstood the test of time.

The same cannot be said about the O’Donnell parking structure at 910 E. Michigan St. near the lakefront, which remains closed following a partial structural collapse in June.

A 30-foot panel of concrete fell from the structure June 24, killing a 15-year-old boy and injuring two others.

Several options are now on the table for the building’s future, said Fran McLaughlin, communications director for the Milwaukee County Executive’s office.

“[A decision] hasn’t been determined yet,” McLaughlin said.  “The county has come up with about six or seven options.  The option that was recommended by the county executive is to take the panels off the structure.”

According to a memo sent out to various chairmen of county departments by Jack Takerian, director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the total cost of this plan would be $5,390,368.80.

This cost covers additional maintenance needed on the structure besides the removal of the faulty panels.

A second option the memo offers is to remove the panels, but instead of leaving them off, the county would repair them and then reinstall them.

This would cost approximately $1 million more than the previous option, but would keep the structural aesthetics the same.  However, the department did not recommend this option, the memo said.

Other options being considered are demolishing the structure as a whole to make the lot into a public park, or demolishing it and reconstructing it as an entrance to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The public park option would cost approximately $6 million, while creating an entrance to the museum would cost $3.9 million, Takerian said.

Of the seven options, the department recommends either taking the panels off entirely or pursuing the public park or museum entrance options. They suggest not following any of the other plans due to risks or cost effectiveness.

While these options are on the table, the structure’s closing has inconvenienced the public.

One such group affected is the Badgerland Striders, Wisconsin’s largest running club, which is coordinating their 30th annual Lakefront Marathon, Sunday, Oct. 3.

In the past they have used the structure as a place for their runners to park for free and where they can then be shuttled to the starting line in Grafton.  They were forced to find a different spot for their 3,000 runners to park.

According to Julie Schroeder, representative for the Lakefront Marathon, they will now be using the parking lots at the Italian Community Center, located more than a half a mile farther from the finish line than the parking structure.

This unofficially tacks on another half mile to the 26.2 the runners will have completed in the marathon.

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