River Park Square officials announced Friday that they will strengthen the mall's parking garage by attaching steel rods and plates to outside-facing walls. The announcement comes four months after a Pullman woman died when her Subaru went through a barrier on the fifth floor and 13 years after an engineer suggested erecting cables along the sides to prevent cars from hitting the concrete barriers.
Half of the barriers on the first seven floors of the River Park Square Parking garage – including one that collapsed earlier this year when hit by a car – do not meet current concrete standards set in the building code, according to an engineering report released Wednesday by the city of Spokane.
Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker has declined to ask a grand jury to investigate whether criminal charges should result from the death of a woman whose car fell from the River Park Square parking garage in April. Former City Councilman Stephen Eugster requested Tucker take action, arguing that engineering and other reports show that officials knew before the April incident that the barriers could fail.
An attorney representing the family of a woman who died when her car fell from the River Park Square garage sharply criticized mall officials Wednesday for failing to take the advice of a 1993 engineering report. In response to barriers cracking after being hit by cars, the report suggested conducting a more thorough look at the barriers or to add steel cable to the sides to prevent cars from hitting the concrete.
More than a decade before a Pullman woman died when her car drove through a barrier on the fifth level of the River Park Square garage, an engineer expressed concern about the sturdiness of the walls.
A Spokane County Superior Court judge has scheduled a hearing at 1:30 p.m. June 6 to examine the River Park Square parking garage. The hearing before Judge Kathleen OConnor was granted at the request of former Spokane City Councilman Stephen Eugster, who has argued that parking spaces in the garage facing the outside should be closed until the sides are reinforced.
The River Park Square garage is closing off parking in rows that face Spokane Falls Boulevard while the owners test the concrete barriers at the end of the spaces. A spokeswoman for the garage said Monday portions of the row of parking spaces in front of all of the barriers, called spandrels, will remain closed for an undetermined length of time. That would affect slightly less than a fourth of the spaces in the main garage structure, but none in the parking beneath Nordstrom.
River Park Square officials said Wednesday that safety improvements will be considered to prevent another car from falling from the mall's garage. However, they stressed that any changes would be voluntary because an initial study shows the garage meets building code.
The concrete barrier that motorist Jo Ellen Savage hit in last month's fatal accident in the River Park Square parking garage exceeds building code requirements, according to a Seattle engineering firm that inspected the barrier for the garage's owner.
Spokane attorney Steve Eugster wants a grand jury to investigate whether any criminal charges should be brought in the fatal plunge of a car out of the River Park Square garage. Eugster, a former Spokane city councilman who said he was acting as a concerned citizen, sent a letter Friday to County Prosecutor Steve Tucker and the county's Superior Court judges, requesting a grand jury be convened.