Jason Reigstad is on a crusade to warn about lurking danger in more than 100 parking garages, each with an underdesigned—and non-code-complaint—precast double-T slab system.
There have been local failures but no major injuries in at least three garages that contain the prestressed double-Ts reinforced with a product called C-Grid, a grid of high-strength carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP).
Reigstad thinks it’s a matter of time until someone gets seriously hurt or worse. “This is a life-safety issue,” says the vice president of the 40-person structural practice Reigstad & Associates Inc., formed by his father, Gordon, 38 years ago.
St. Paul, Minn.
ENR 4/10/17 p. 10
Project manager is on a campaign to alert owners of more than 100 parking garages that their underdesigned double-Ts may be in danger of failure.
Reigstad’s world started to change nearly three years ago. On Feb. 19, 2015, and April 15, 2016, there were two separate failures involving C-Grid double-Ts, supplied by Metromont Corp., at two garages, both completed in 2010 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel, in Cherokee, N.C.
The 46-year-old Reigstad, a 2011 graduate civil engineer of the University of North Dakota, was the project manager for his firm, which was the engineer-of-record for the overall hotel-casino development, owned by the Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise (TCGE) of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.
The engineer, which was not responsible for the double-Ts in either garage, investigated the failures for TCGE. The FRP reinforcing was underdesigned by “nearly a factor of four,” if following the prevailing FRP standard, says Reigstad.
After a survey to pin down how many other garages have C-Grid double-Ts, Reigstad contacted the parties involved with the product, which is no longer sold. “No one was stepping up to the plate to take responsibility, so I felt compelled to do whatever we could to get the word out,” says Reigstad. “I was frustrated, so I reached out to ENR.”
Aaron Lay—a partner at Hamilton Stephens Steele & Martin, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of TCGE that went into binding arbitration—calls Reigstad’s actions “courageous. Most engineers run for cover when there is a problem.”
Last year, W.L. Gamble, a professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of Illinois, worked with the Reigstads to pinpoint the causes of the Harrah’s failures. “Jason’s work on this is tireless,” he says, adding, “One of my colleagues calls [the situation] a ticking time bomb.”
In late December, the arbitration panel granted TCGE a multimillion-dollar award. Next month, Reigstad expects to begin warning the owners of the other affected garages.