Report warns of potential fatalities if earthquake hits near Timpview High

Local News

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – A recent report warns Timpview High School could be on the verge of collapse in the event of a major earthquake, and Provo City School District is working to figure out how to prevent that. 

The school, some of which was first built in 1975, is not up to current seismic codes, according to district spokesperson Caleb Price. Much of the building is built on clay, and recent wet weather has damaged the structural integrity of the school. 

Dynamic Structures recently released findings that said a “collapse would likely cause fatalities if the building were occupied during the seismic event.”

Masonry pieces came loose in the upper corner of one of the gyms in April of 2017, the result of settlement, according to the same report. 

“The building is basically sliding down the hill,” said Price, who took ABC4 News on a tour of the school to see some of the compromised areas. In one of the auxiliary gymnasiums, for example, concrete double tees are “not adequately connected to the bearing walls,” the report found. A particularly wet winter of 2016-2017 showed just how widespread the building’s problems are. This winter has also been problematic, and when everything thaws, there will likely be more damage.” 

“I think rebuilding it would probably be the best option, just starting new using modern construction techniques,” said sophomore Sam Bunker. 

Rebuilding the school is an option, but it’s an expensive one: costing nearly $145 million. Renovating the building would cost about $90 million, according to district officials. The building is not secured into the bedrock, Price said. Seismic codes in the 1970s did not require it. 

Whatever the district decides to do with the school, it will cost a lot of money. The school board is currently considering a $200 million bond to fix Timpview and other schools in the district, including Dixon Middle, Wasatch Elementary and Westridge Elementary. 

Students told ABC4 News they are aware of the building’s structural problems, but not enough to be frightened to come to school. The school district assured us the school is not on the verge of collapse but said a decision on what to do with the building will need to come soon. 

Recent seismic activity throughout Utah, though, has everyone thinking about what might happen. 

There will be another public hearing on the situation on the evening of March 26 at the school board meeting. 

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