SME provided geotechnical consulting and construction materials testing services for the $118-million parking garage project at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The project also included a 50-foot tall steel-framed glass-covered canopy structure that spanned between the parking garage and terminal.



The parking garage consists of three supported levels of post tensioned slab supported by shallow spread footings to accommodate 4,900 parking spaces. During the initial design phase, our geotechnical team recommended performing soil pressuremeter testing (PMT) on site. By providing PMT and value engineering early on, SME determined that a higher allowable soil bearing capacity could be used to design smaller spread footings which resulted in a cost savings of at least $750,000.

During construction, due to the aggressive construction schedule of the project, SME supplied a team of experienced field engineers, engineering technicians, structural steel inspectors, and coatings inspectors (sometimes around the clock) to meet the project’s needs. For example, most of the concrete deck placements occurred at 3 a.m., and the steel canopy erection and coating work occurred overnight on weekends. SME also prepared plans and specifications for a utility trench to concentrate some of the major utilities into a protected area, limiting disturbance to the site if and when a utility repair is necessary. SME also assisted with the design of permanent steel sheet piling for construction of the utility trench

The new parking structure increases passenger safety with a well-lit interior, dynamic way-finding messages, and protection from snowfall and rain at the terminal curbside under a grand canopy.