Columbia, SC (WLTX) - After a Texas parking garage failure led to more than 20 damaged vehicles, WLTX wanted to know if parking garages are inspected here in the Palmetto State.
News19's Jacob Reynolds spent the day talking to several agencies and government offices to try to find out if your parking spot is safe.
Jessica Myer parks in a downtown Columbia garage two to three times a week to train and walk dogs.
She says after moving to Columbia from Sumter, safety was on her mind when she first started parking in garages.
“I'd get a little, you know paranoid, and I'd look up top to like see what the foundation looked like, but really it was just a once or two-time thing that ran through my head. Ever since then, no not really given much thought about it,” Myer said next to her car inside one of the city’s public garages.
WLTX asked several state agencies and local governments if they required inspections for parking garages or if they inspected garages they owned.
Both South Carolina’s Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation along with the Department of Transportation said they did not inspect or mandate inspections for garages.
“This does not fall under our Agency. There are no requirements through the state Building Codes for inspections after a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued by the local authority having jurisdiction. However, the local authority having jurisdiction (cities, towns, counties) may have inspection requirements/schedules,” said Lesia Kudelka in an email.
Kudelka works with the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
“SCDOT is only responsible for highway assets in the state such as roads and bridges. Nothing more,” said Pete Poore with the Department of Transportation.
WLTX also reached out to the South Carolina Department of Administration to determine if state-owned garages are inspected. In an email, WLTX was told our request would be answered on Thursday.
Kudelka said the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation does not handle inspections of state-owned garages.
Structural engineer Jeremy Ray has more than 10 years’ experience in the field. Ray owns APEX Forensic Engineers in Columbia.
“I'm unaware of any current law requiring that they be inspected. I have worked for companies where we have performed those type of inspections, but to my knowledge it was not governed by law,” Ray said over the phone.
However, Ray explained that while working for past employers, he used to do inspections for state-owned garages.
Ray told WLTX those inspections normally involved checking for signs of distress in the structure, including cracks or loose pieces of concrete.
He was not the only structural engineering who said he had no knowledge of a state law.
Jesse Burke, owner of Burke Engineering LLC, has 30 years’ experience in the field and said he was unaware of any law or requirement, but had completed parking garage inspections in the past.
Another engineer with 42 years’ experience, said he also knew of no legal requirement in the state of South Carolina to inspect parking garages or structures.
The International Concrete Repair Institute recommends that, “As a minimum, a routine walk-through inspection should be conducted at least once a year,” according to a 2014 bulletin.
WLTX attempted to ask the city of Columbia parking facilities manager, Shannon Greene, if the city’s public parking garages were inspected regularly.
Greene referred us back to the city’s media relations department, WLTX is waiting for a response.
Richland County Commercial Plans Reviewer Keith Benton said parking garages are inspected as they are built. However, he did not know of any inspectors from the county’s Building Codes & Inspections office that carried out inspections after commercial parking structures are completed and open to the public.
Benton said he did know the public parking garage near the Richland County Administration building was inspected regularly.
WLTX asked Richland County’s Public Information Office if all county-owned public garages are inspected regularly, WLTX is waiting for a response.
This story will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.