Thursday, February 19, 2009

Seismic upgrades to come with stratospheric cost

The idea is to prevent the shocks from an earthquake from toppling PRSS, however the shock of the cost of the project to that, may just bring the place down anyways.

School District 52 was presented with a rather hefty estimate last week at the cost of reinforcing Prince Rupert Secondary School to withstand the wrath of Mother Nature, now the question is will the cost be worth the work or is it better to just build from scratch.

As the School district ponders the prospect of some 7.9 million dollars in required upgrades, the debate will heat up as to the future of secondary school education in the city, whether there will still be two high schools at the end of the day, or if a merger and creation of a junior high program will be the next step in the process of education in the city.

The Northern View was quick with the story last week, featuring the details first, posting them to their website over the weekend, The Daily News provided its background on the issue in Wednesday's paper.
Earthquake report puts PRSS on some shaky ground
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Page one

Two years after School District 52 commissioned a seismic study of Prince Rupert Senior Secondary School, the district's trustees have learned that the building would cost nearly $8 million to upgrade to current standards.
The Phase Two Seismic Mitigation Feasibility Study, completed by David Nairne and Associates Ltd. (DNA), outlines PRSS' construction history between 1958 and 1992, and identifies the materials that each portion of the structure was built with.

The building's superstructure is comprised of structural steel, wood, and masonry gravity and lateral systems, while the main floor structure is a combination of suspended concrete floor slabs, concrete slabs-on-grade, and suspended floors over crawlspace, with timber piles and concrete piers supporting the foundation walls and beams. Although the site was originally considered at significant risk from any seismic shaking from the bedrock beneath, more recent analysis found the seismic demand on the building to be less than what DNA originally considered.
However, DNA's general findings were still not very encouraging.

"Our seismic assessment of PRSS identified significant seismic deficiencies in the building structure and foundations that pose a high seismic risk," stated the executive summary of the study. "To address these seismic deficiencies, significant seismic upgrading will be required ...
We estimate that the total project cost for the structural seismic retrofit of this school to be $7,941,381 based on a Construction Management approach over a continuous 16-month construction period between February 2010 and June 2011."

The response to the extraordinarily high cost of maintaining PRSS from the SD52 board at their open meeting on Feb. 10 was nearly unanimous, with most trustees baffled at the prospect of spending $8 million to upgrade an old school. Janet Biel was blunt, stating that the obvious answer will be to tear down the building and build a new school in its place. Others were more reserved in their opinions, but it did not appear that anyone at the table was in support of such a complete retrofit given the extensive costs involved and the district's tight budget during the next several years.

The seismic study comes at an opportune time for SD52, as public discussion will begin next month when the board will host a Public Townhall Meeting to provide an update on their Long Range Facilities Plan and receive feedback on the scenarios recommended by the Matrix Planning Report in January.

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