The fiscal year 2023 budget for the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, includes $5 million for a Fleet Facility Renovation Project. It comes after city mechanics spoke out about conditions at the city's main fleet garage.
According to a city spokesperson, the city entered into an agreement in May with McKinstry Essention LLC to provide LED lighting, solar, and roofing improvements at city facilities. The Fleet Services garage will receive a solar array, which will cover a large area of the building footprint. As part of the project, approximately 50% of the roof will receive a re-cover. The spokesperson explained that that is essentially a new roof with a 20-year warranty. The city is exploring an option to reroof the remaining square footage.
A structural engineer performed an analysis to ensure the existing structure can adequately support the arrays. The roofing material has already been ordered. Work could begin on the project in November.
Some of the maintenance being done is considered "critical." A city spokesperson explained there have been a few incidents where concrete has "spalled" from the slab at the city's main fleet garage and has fallen. The spokesperson said when that has happened, City Facility Management (CFM) patches affected areas when feasible and removes deteriorated pieces. WCPO has previously reported on city mechanics' safety concerns about the facility. One mechanic mentioned water leaks, chunks of concrete falling, and rebar sticking through the floor. A concrete slab restoration project valued at approximately $1.1 million will be released for public bidding this month.
When asked whether the repairs were prompted by the concerns raised to WCPO, a spokesperson explained that requests for funding repairs at the fleet garage have been submitted yearly since 1996 to compete with all the priorities for the capital budget, which is controlled by city council. In January, the director and deputy director of the fleet department presented the issues at the fleet garage to the newly elected mayor's staff. In February, they presented the issues to the Budget and Finance Committee. These meetings resulted in support for the needed funding, which is what led to the funds being included in the budget.
A structural engineer is also working on designing development drawings to bid out the rehab of the existing floors at the facility. This will increase the overall weight limits for vehicles serviced at the fleet department's main garage. The last analysis was completed in 1976; a 1977 memo summarized the allowable wheel loads for the facility. In 2021, another structural analysis was completed, which included repair recommendations. There is a gap between the required capacity to support axle loads corresponding to the city’s maintenance fleet versus available structural capacity. To address this, a spokesperson said the first step is to repair the floor from further deterioration; strengthening measures will also be implemented. In the meantime, Fleet Services is aware of the current allowable wheel load limits.