Construction expert suspects design flaw in mall ramp - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Construction expert suspects design flaw in mall ramp

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) -

Thousands use the parking ramps at the Mall of America each day, and while officials say the height of the truck that collided with a portion of the ramp brought down the slab of concrete that killed the driver, one expert told FOX 9 News he suspects a design flaw is to blame.

Structurally, the parking ramp is perfectly safe; however, that doesn't mean the design is sound.

According to construction risk expert Tim Galarnyk, anticipating human error should be a part of the design process -- especially since it appears that the 60-foot concrete slab may have had more to do with form than function.

"This is not even a beam," he explained. "It's a facial panel. This is a cosmetic facial panel."

If Friday night's crash was a contest between the U-Haul truck and the parking ramp, it seems odd that the U-haul won -- bringing down a concrete slab that crushed and killed the driver, who either ignored or didn't see the height restrictions.

Galarnyk examined an identical feature on the other side of the Mall of America's west parking ramp. He said it's not a cross beam at all; in fact, it doesn't bear any weight. Still, Galarnyk told FOX 9 News he believes that the architectural feature should have been designed to withstand the impact of the moving truck.

"I'm talking a U-Haul truck. Peel it like a tin can before it takes a concrete element down," he said.

The site of the crash is still closed to traffic, but the bolts that held the pre-cast concrete slab can be seen.

Meanwhile, the original designers of the parking ramp are working on computer models of the accident, factoring in the speed and weight of the truck along with the angle of impact.

A spokesperson for the Mall of America told FOX 9 News, "It is very premature to make any statement or give any opinion regarding how and why this happened. When we have this professional, well-informed and knowledgeable opinion, we will be happy to share that."

For the record, Galarnyk's track record is pretty good. Just days after the Martin Olav Sabo pedestrian bridge failed, he correctly identified vibrations as the culprit. He also blew the whistle on deficiencies with the Stillwater Lift Bridge.

To clarify, Galarnyk does not believe the parking ramp is unsafe. Instead, he says a foreseeable accident should have been taken into account.

The driver of the U-Haul was identified as 52-year-old Raheem Waheed. He had several driving violations on his record, and he may not have had a current, valid license at the time of the accident. The 45-year-old woman and her 12-year-old daughter who were inside the truck when it crashed were not seriously hurt.

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