Questions emerge about parking deck safety after fatal accident at Grandview Hospital – Alabama's News Leader

by Gracie Johnson
The fatal accident Thursday morning at Grandview Hospital when a woman's vehicle broke through a barrier on an upper level, left many people wondering how and when parking structures are inspected.
According to the city of Birmingham, routine inspections and maintenance to ensure structural integrity is the responsibility of the property owner. Several public parking decks around Birmingham seem to be holding up pretty well but sometimes the dangers can go unseen.
The city of Birmingham was unable to provide someone to meet in person, but a spokesperson did answer several questions through email.
Q: Does the city code require inspection of parking decks both private and public?
A: The city requires and reviews engineer-stamped plans with design standards for structures upon issuance of a building permit. Once the permit is issued, the city conducts inspections to ensure compliance with the building code. Permitting is required for new construction as well as upgrades. In any case, permitting is required which includes reviews and inspections to ensure compliance.
Q: If so – what is the requirement? Are parking decks inspected annually? Every 5-years?
A: Routine maintenance to ensure structural integrity is the responsibility of the property owner.
Q: What do these inspections entail?
A: Typically, the owner would consult with a structural engineer to conduct an assessment if there are concerns about structural integrity. The city may close a structure if it is deemed condemnable.
Q: How does someone log a concern about public or private parking decks?
A: Specific to your email, the records you inquire about likely would-be part of the Department of Planning Engineering and Permits.
Q: Has the city ever closed a parking deck due to concerns over structural integrity?
A: Pursuant to the 36-12-40, Code of Alabama 1975, Inspection and Copying of Records, “Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute.”
Q: How can the public access building plans for a parking deck? Is there a cost?
A: The Department of Planning, Engineering, and Permits (PEP) has departmental specific fees for public records access and duplication.
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People parking in the public parking decks in downtown Birmingham have expressed their own concerns.
"Older ones, you don't know when it was remodeled and stuff like that," said Kyle Horn. "It could definitely like collapse. There's a lot of things scary about that."

Others said it never crossed their mind.
"I'm just looking for a spot to be honest with you," said Robbie Bell. "You know, where's the traffic coming and so forth like that, but I don't think about safety."
Brasfield & Gorrie, the builders of Grandview Hospital, released a statement about Thursday's incident.
"Brasfield & Gorrie is working with Grandview Medical Center to support the investigation into the incident at the parking deck."