Eastern Portion of Merrimack St. Parking Garage to Reopen Soon

Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The eastern, top portion of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck has been closed for months while repairs were underway. (WHAV News photograph.)

Downtown parking has been a bit tighter the last few months as a large portion of the top of the Merrimack Street parking garage was out of commission while repairs were underway.

However, city officials said the $226,000 project is almost complete and a large number of parking spaces between Pentucket Bank and Pentucket Medical will soon become available once again. Haverhill Purchasing Director Steven S. Bucuzzo describes the extent of repairs at the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck.

“The project is comprised of concrete repair of pre-cast double tees, beams and columns; as well as sealant replacements at pre-cast concrete joints and epoxy repairs at tees,” he said.

P.J. Spillane Company of Everett was awarded the project after a round of bidding.

Parking Deck’s Troubled History

The eastern section of the parking deck is the newer portion of the two-story garage. It opened in 1986 with a dedication ceremony attended by then-Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.

During May 1979, cracks appeared in 22 concrete beams even as the garage was still under construction. Investigators determined a contractor strayed from drawings and built oversized columns to hold the top floor. The increased size of the columns reduced the space available for concrete to expand and contract during seasonal temperature swings. Repair costs went on to swamp the entire garage budget, forcing the city to open the deck without its eastern wing in 1981.

During the administration of Mayor William H. Ryan, the state agreed to pay for completion of the abandoned wing, then known as “Area B.” Unlike the original section, it was prefabricated and assembled on site.

The Haverhill Housing Authority, then still in charge of Haverhill’s urban renewal program, first proposed a $1.5 million garage in 1974. Early designs during the mayoral administration of George K. Katsaros called for the garage to be built flush with Merrimack Street. The following year, incoming Mayor Lewis C. Burton ordered the deck built 60 feet away from the street to allow for construction of stores in front.

Ground was finally broken in 1978 for what was then to be a $2.2 million garage. By the time the eastern wing opened, project costs had soared to nearly $6 million.

This year’s repair project is under the direction of City Engineer John H. Pettis III, Bucuzzo said.


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