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Alewife garage deemed safe enough to open Monday morning

MassDOT reports engineers have concluded the spot repairs done over the weekend are good enough that the garage at the Alewife T stop can re-open for business at 5 a.m. on Monday. The state began a rolling shutdown of 500 spaces at a time in the garage after concrete plunged onto a car Wednesday.

During the weekend closure, crews were able to address additional areas of deteriorated concrete, inspect and cover expansion joints where appropriate, and secure the paths of travel for pedestrian and vehicular access to the garage. Following completion of the work, an engineering and safety assessment of the garage’s condition determined that the garage is safe for use. Both MBTA personnel and an independent engineering consultant conducted the assessment.

Still, just in case, the state will be "implementing further measures to enhance monitoring of the garage’s condition." These include shutting the garage overnight every day so that engineers can do nightly inspections.

In September, a contract is scheduled to begin a $5.7-million job to fix up the garage. The T had awarded the contract before the falling concrete made it realize there might be more pressing issues in the garage.

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Comments

Adorable alewife fishies!

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Voting closed 8

The FMCB just revealed they were NOT TOLD about the 2017 Alewife Report. The current transportation secretary, Stephanie Pollack, has had a propensity to conceal data from the FMCB and even the Governor. This is becoming: What did Pollack know and when did she know it.

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It sounds like the MassDOT traffic sign out on the street is still (Monday morning) announcing the garage is closed when it is open, causing some confusion.

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The MBTA saying it's safe to go back in the garage reminds me of the Mayor of Amity Island overruling the chief of police decision to close the beaches because of shark attacks.

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most people will go "Huh, what?"

But if you say "concrete failing", you've got yourselves a panic on the 13th of August.

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than an engineer telling me something is "good enough."

IMAGE(https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/adventuretimewithfinnandjake/images/c/c1/Meh.png/revision/latest?cb=20130519224155)

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Voting closed 42

"The duct tape is holding firm at this time. Situation normal."

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but that's pretty much all engineers do, by definition. You can build things to whatever tolerance you want. If you build it to infinite tolerance, it will cost infinite money and take infinite time. If you build it to no tolerance, it will collapse under its own weight. Engineering is the fine art of finding the middle ground between the two.

That said, I'm more than a little nervous at the sequence and timing by the engineering folks here. "Yeah, the place has been deteriorating for years, and we finally spun up the machine to get things properly fixed. That job will take years and cost millions, but in the meantime, me and three buddies checked 20,000 square feet of high-ceilings and steel girders, in 3 days, and made all the fixes we needed to make to keep it safe. Yeah, I know I said it would take millions of dollars and years of work to actually fix it, but you can totally trust us that THIS time our quick fix worked and it won't rain deadly concrete on anyone in the next two months."

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They're not like accountants, who are basically paid to spin numbers. If there were any dangers in the parking garage, no engineer worth their salt would sign off on anything saying it is safe. I mean, if they are wrong, they'd be in a ton of trouble.

My gut is that when whatever previous inspections took place and engineers found out the structure was in rough safe, the contract was advertised. When everything went down last week, they needed to find out what kind of quick fixes will allow use of the structure until permanent repairs are made. Everything seems above board.

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no engineer worth their salt

I thought we were talking about MassDOT here.

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Sure. A poorly built Dukakis garage is fixed in two days. I can smell the BS from JP

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the level that we were repeatedly told to have upon "completion" of the Big Dig, prior to the ceiling collapse that killed a person?

That involved a slew of politicians, suppliers & engineers who had their name behind it...and it cost someone's life, because of epoxy. "All's safe here", and then it wasn't.

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When were the ceiling panels inspected before they failed?

Judging from the inspections of other panels post failure, they were probably overdue for inspection. The issue with that failure was in the design and execution, and the firms that screwed up were charged with screwing up. Again, would you want to be the engineer that signed off on the structure being safe if you weren't sure it was?

Engineering failures happen all the time. Watch this quick video about just that. But as of today, I would feel much safe leaving my car in the Alewife parking garage than I would have on Friday.

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they obviously did not occur. But you're inferring that had inspections occurred, the Big Dig collapse wouldn't have occurred at all.

It certainly would've helped in trying to intercept that collapse, but had there been inspection protocols already present & actively followed, you can't assume the requirements automatically would have been robust enough to catch the problem beforehand...that all depends on what we think should've been in place already vs what might've been put in place by the DOT (though ultimately, nothing was up to this point).

Again, ALL parties, from the epoxy manufacturer to the contractors to the DOT essentially "signed-off" on its safety by continuing work with questionable epoxy & not establishing some long-term monitoring program to observe anchor performance. Trust was put into these entities to get it right from the get-go, and there were failures across the board.

I'm not saying the garage isn't safe to a degree...I'm just saying, take the reassurance with a grain of salt.

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Voting closed 17

Don't say "salt"!

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The Long Island bridge was deemed "good enough" (with restrictions) until suddenly it wasn't.

Alewife is not the Long Island Bridge and it isn't going to collapse. But reading between the lines on the Engineer/MBTA statement it leaves open the possibility they might suddenly shut the entire garage again.

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Voting closed 6

The "millions of dollars and years of work to actually fix it" fix is the one that's good for 20-50 years.

The "me and three buddies checked 20,000 square feet of high-ceilings and steel girders, in 3 days, and made all the fixes we needed to make to keep it safe" is the one that'll hold for a month or two.

I don't see any dissonance between these two.

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Would you pay?

If you want something to last eons, it costs money that you probably don't want to spend.

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"shutting the garage overnight" means what? No in and out? Or all the cars have to be out?

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Cars must be removed after the last Red Line train arrives for the night.

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I wonder if there are any cars in there that were abandoned some time ago, or how they prevent that from happening?

I guess this is a test. I assume that they towed any vehicles that are left in there. Would totally suck if you,say, drove in from Littleton and left your car there for the week while flying somewhere else far away.

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They towed carts last week to start the work. No cars were removed, they were relocated to a less crumbly portion of the same floor

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This is a paid parking garage; they'd figure out fairly quickly if a car was simply abandoned there.

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I like the Jaws effect comment. Very accurate.

I will also ask again if the MBTA has its own building inspectors or any preventive maintenance for garages? Most seem to be crumbling, even with all of the high six figure salaries. I don't see private cement garages crumbling as much, even with the same road salt, proximity to ocean etc.

My experience is city/town building inspectors avoid state property, see UMass Boston garage and many T garages falling apart. Maybe cut out a couple of the upper level management jobs and hire a few engineers to check these sites weekly. Only a matter of time before a catastrophe happens.

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Voting closed 9

Why doesn't OSHA go after the MBTA for unsafe working conditions? Crumbling stations, garages, tunnels, poor ventilation, noise, toxic coatings, dust, oils, and chemicals would get private businesses heavily fined or shut down. Why isn't a state owned entity subject to the same level of scrutiny?

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OSHA protections do not extend to public employees.

https://m.afscme.org/news/publications/workplace-health-and-safety/fact-...

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Starting September 1

Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday night signed a bill that will apply federal workplace safety standards to municipal workers.

and

In 2014, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a law applying OSHA protections to state executive branch employees. But the standards still did not apply to city and town workers, higher education workers and workers for quasi-public organizations like the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

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The bill that was signed into law, H.3952, will apply OSHA standards to all public employees, including municipal workers and quasi-public agency workers. It will create a new OSHA advisory board to evaluate injury and illness data, recommend training, monitor the effectiveness of safety standards and determine if any other other resources are needed.

From: https://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/03/gov_charlie_baker_si...

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I haven't worked with occupational health in a while - I somehow missed that.

Makes sense, but still requires individual states to act.

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My place of business pushes OSHA with or without the State's action, thus my knowledge of the changes.

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Oh, I know how this plays out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-zczJXSxnw

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As an engineer, electrical, who works for the T, I am constantly told to put equipment back into service against my recommendation. I always make sure there is a paper trail or am told to over a recorded phone line. If we did not make certain oversights, the trains would not run.

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Thanks, at least, for trying to do the right thing, and for leaving an audit trail.

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"Safe enough" is how my mom described my uncle Marty.

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