The RiverCentre ramp in downtown St. Paul, closed since a concrete slab fell onto a parked car last month, has begun to reopen.
The 200 spaces on the ramp’s open-air top deck reopened Thursday. The other six levels will open as ceiling fixes are made, with the entire ramp back in business by this fall, said Terry Mattson, president and CEO of Visit St. Paul and the RiverCentre Authority.
The Visit St. Paul board voted Wednesday to begin reopening the 1,600-space ramp. Protective netting will be installed throughout the ramp until all repairs are made to prevent additional concrete from falling, and each level will reopen after a city inspection.
Mayor Melvin Carter ordered the ramp closure May 17, the day after a chunk of concrete fell. No one was injured.
For years, city officials have sought state bonding dollars to tear down the RiverCentre ramp and build a new, 2,200-space, $117.9 million facility. They made a $58 million bonding request during the last Legislative session, but lawmakers approved only $5 million for demolition.
The six-week ramp closure has cost an average of nearly $15,000 a day in lost revenue, according to Visit St. Paul.
On Wednesday, the Visit St. Paul board also approved a resolution adding $1.25 million to the organization’s 2018 budget. That money will supplement $1.25 million already budgeted for capital improvements.
The bonding money has to be used within four years, Mattson said, but he expects the ramp will be replaced before then.
“This is a short-term fix,” Mattson said of the planned repairs, “but we’re absolutely confident the ramp is going to be safer than any other ramp.”