As the Los Angeles County hospital system forged ahead last week with plans for new construction and rebuilding following the powerful Jan. 17 earthquake, demolition work at one quake-damaged Southern California hospital was delayed.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors awarded a $19 million contract for construction of a 3,000-car parking structure at LAC-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. A.T. Curd Constructors of Glendale, Calif., won the contract for the structure, which isn't a replacement facility.
A.T. Curd, the lowest of four bidders on the project, is the firm that built the California State University at Northridge parking structure that collapsed during the destructive 6.8 temblor three months ago.
County officials said design plans for the new project differ significantly from the fallen structure at the academic facility because they include improvements in the flexibility of columns by using steel reinforcements and added strength through the use of shear walls. Engineers determined that square supporting columns in the Cal State Northridge parking garage crumbled because they were too weak to withstand the violent shaking caused by the quake.
Meanwhile, at Saint John's Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, a contractor renovating the shuttered inpatient building suspended operations on March 25 after the South Coast Air Quality Management District, a quasi-state agency that regulates asbestos removal, conducted an inspection. The inspection, to determine whether construction firms working at the hospital had improperly removed asbestos found in the plaster of the quake-damaged structure's walls, was prompted by an anonymous complaint from a construction worker on the site.
Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the air quality management agency, said Dillingham Construction, a Long Beach, Calif.-based company, suspended interior demolition while an agency inspector surveyed the site to see "if any improper action was taking place." Dillingham Construction isn't a state-licensed asbestos removal firm.
Mr. Atwood said the agency's investigation will determine whether the company and Abatec, a licensed asbestos removal company in El Toro, Calif., failed to take standard precautions while handling or removing asbestos from the hospital's walls. The companies were scheduled to submit documents to the agency for review late last week, Mr. Atwood said.
At deadline, construction crews were back on the job at Saint John's and were tearing down the interior of the hospital. To speed the demolition, the contracting companies have added a second work shift.
Trish Bartel, a Saint John's spokeswoman, said the temporary work stoppage hasn't delayed reconstruction, which is scheduled to begin by June 1.