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Ahwahnee Hotel Deemed Potentially Unsafe During an Earthquake

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  Site Where: 9005 Ahwahnee Dr. [map], Yosemite National Park, CA, United States, 95389
March 13, 2009 at 4:24 PM | by | Comments (0)

The historic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park may be unsafe in an earthquake, park officials have concluded. According to the Associated Press, a study revealed the hotel "does not meet modern seismic safety standards and risks partial collapse in a major earthquake." Yikes.

Built in 1927, the structure — with reinforced-concrete walls — may not be strong enough to keep guests safe during a large tremor.

Per the AP:

"Because of the localized structural failures, there is the potential for the loss of human lives," said the study by URS Corp., an engineering and construction company. "The extensive damage that is expected will likely cause the building to be evacuated after such an earthquake."

The retrofit options the consultants proposed would cost between $17.9 and $22.3 million, and would require the hotel to be left empty for two years. Park officials did not say Thursday whether they planned to follow those recommendations, but said the latest cost estimate for the project was in the $20 million range.

At this point, the risk of the two sorts of earthquakes in the hypothetical scenarios included in the report have a 2 percent and a 10 percent likelihood of happening in a 50-year period. So to keep the hotel a safe structure, its foundation needs to be reinforced and the walls of the dining room need more support.

A spokesman for the hotel said guests "should feel safe staying there" — but due to the costs associated with earthquake-proofing renovations, there aren't yet any plans to earthquake-proof the hotel. Still, it seems the safety issues aren't deterring Grand Ahwahnee loyalists: the first commenter on the AP story (in the SF Chronicle) said, "whatever. a night at the ahwahnee is worth falling through the center of the earth." Well, there you go, then.

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