Demolition Under Way at Site of Fatal Parking Garage Collapse

Wed November 05, 2003 - National Edition

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Demolition workers on Monday began dismantling a 100-ft. (30.5 m) high concrete wall left precariously unsupported after the collapse of a parking garage last week.

Three ironworkers, suspended in a basket from a giant construction crane, pried off concrete molds and a wooden scaffold from the wall before another crane lifted the pieces and lowered them to the ground at the Tropicana Casino and Resort garage.

Contractors were planning to bore holes through the 15-in. (38.1 cm) thick wall, thread cable through it and cut it down to size –– section by section.

The wall was left after the top five floors of the 10-story structure collapsed Oct. 30 while concrete was being poured on the top floor. Four people were killed.

Representatives of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration were meeting with contractor Keating Building Corp. and state and city construction officials to devise a strategy for completing the work safely.

But the task was a delicate one, since no one could predict the impact of the wall removal on the rest of the 2,400-space garage or the surrounding buildings, including a 604-room hotel tower and another garage.

"We simply do not know the structural integrity of this building," said police Capt. John J. Mooney.

He said that once the wall was cut down to approximately 70 ft. (21.3 m), the evacuated hotel tower and garage across the street might be reopened.

Also unclear was how much of the remaining structure will be torn down before construction resumes. The block-long garage supports an 18-story hotel tower at the other end, complicating matters.

"Those are all questions that remain unanswered,’ said Tropicana spokeswoman Maureen Siman.

Keating, the general contractor on the garage, was overseeing the demolition work. But spokesman Jason Rocker said the company had no comment on the work and Keating officials at the scene would not answer questions.

Gary Roskoski, OSHA area director, said the investigation was still in its early stages, with no determination as to what caused the fatal accident.

"We have interviewed many employees, contractors, employers and everybody’s being cooperative," he said. "We will collect as much data as we can. We want to review every piece of information we can get hold of and then make a determination where we go with that information.’