SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — There’s a proposed revision to the ongoing fix for San Francisco’s leaning Millennium Tower that would scale back the amount of work that needs to be done, but some critics remain skeptical.
The original, so-called Perimeter Pile Plan called for the installation of 52 piles along Mission and Fremont Streets, to effectively prop up the tower.Fans Rally Behind Road Warrior San Francisco 49ers; Will Tickets Be Available For NFC Championship Game?
The newly proposed and revised plan only calls for 18 piles that can support a heavier load, according to documents obtained by KPIX 5.
“It doesn’t smell right,” said veteran geotechnical engineer Robert Pyke.
Pyke has been a vocal critic of the tower’s voluntary retrofit, and is skeptical about this revised plan.
“The 18-pile solution is driven by the need to get the thing wrapped up and to save money. It’s nothing about optimizing it from the point of view of long-term performance,” Pyke said. “This supposed reduction from 52 piles to 18 making no big difference, being more optimized, is ludicrous.”
In a letter to Millennium Tower homeowners explaining more details about the revised plan, General Manager James Zaratin writes, “While the original scope of work included 52 piles with an estimated total cost of $100mil, this new scope will still ultimately fall within that budget.”
He also explained that the lead engineer, Ron Hamburger, and the project’s geotechnical engineer, believe, “it would be important to minimize the amount of construction and complete the project expeditiously to minimize additional building settlement, which has continued even when construction has halted.”
Hamburger specified the details of the revised plan in a letter to city building officials. He writes:READ MORE: Hazardous Sneaker Waves Threaten San Francisco Beachcombers
“As previously discussed with the City’s review panel (EDRT), the project team believes that to minimize the impact of accelerated titling the building is now experiencing, absent any construction activity, it is important to complete project construction expeditiously. Given restrictions on construction-related noise during nights, the ability to speed construction through multiple labor shifts is not possible. Therefore, we believe the best path forward is to reduce the number of piles installed, while simultaneously increasing the jacking load per pile. To this end, we are preparing a submittal to the EDRT of a revised design comprising a total of 18 piles with a jacking load of 1,000 kips per pile.”
Though there would be significantly fewer piles that go to bedrock, the load per pile can safely increase from 800,000 pounds to 1,000,000 pounds, according to a letter Hamburger sent to the Millennium Tower’s General Manager.
“I don’t buy it,” said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin. “I’ve been contacted by numerous respected experts in the field who do not buy it.”
Peskin remains skeptical about the voluntary retrofit. He has his eyes on an upcoming, second hearing about the tower’s fix.
“We’re going to ask questions on Thursday, January 6th. If necessary, subpoena parties going forward if they don’t want to talk,” he said. “The number one question that I still continue to ask is, is this really safe, what is the point of no return, and what is the plan if and when we reach that point?”
The tower is currently tilting about two feet towards the corner of Mission and Fremont Streets.
The building could tilt another three inches, even with the 18-pile design, according to Hamburger’s letter.
“There should be a complete review of the situation and consideration of whether at this stage, it is possible to implement some other, better, longer-term solution,” Pyke said.MORE NEWS: Film Fans Tell New Castro Theatre Managers To Keep It Reel
The Department of Building Inspection has received Hamburger’s letter and “are beginning our analysis,” according to a spokesperson.