PennDOT to replace salt storage buildings

The tarp structures may be unsafe in high winds

News The Patriot News October 13, 2010
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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is tearing down and replacing 112 salt storage structures because they may be in danger of collapsing, the Harrisburg Patriot News reported.

The structures are similar to the Dallas Cowboys football practice structure that collapsed in high winds in May 2009 and injured 12 people. The company that supplied the PennDOT salt storage structures, Cover-All Building Systems, is the now-bankrupt parent of the company that built the Cowboys practice facility. The child company notified PennDOT in April that it could not guarantee the safety of the parent company’s products, and PennDOT began a study of the structural integrity of the buildings.

The buildings made by Cover-All and several other manufacturers were found flawed.

PennDOT has contracted with several companies to demolish the old buildings, which are basically tarps stretched over metal frames, and construct sturdier wooden buildings at a cost of $32.3 million.

PennDOT has experienced a few problems with the tarp salt buildings. Two of them collapsed a few years ago in high winds, and the rear wall blew out of another.

“We have employees going in and out of these frequently during the winter months, because they store salt,” PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar told The Patriot News. “We couldn’t jeopardize our employees’ health and well-being, so we had to act aggressively and move forward with plans to replace these structures.”

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