Additions to garage still being made to ease traffic during the day.
By Will Underhill
The new parking garage has done much to alleviate the parking problem on campus, but it is not yet completed.
“This has been without a doubt the smoothest start to a semester with respect to the parking situation,” said Tim Rockey, dean of continuing education training network and chair of the Parking Committee.
As reported by The Ranger in November 2006, the garage adds 1,100 parking spaces to the campus but only gives a net gain of 400 spaces before construction started.
By Rockey’s own account, the garage is full by 9 a.m.
Although construction is complete and students and faculty use the garage daily, work is still being done at night when everyone has gone home.
Since the garage opened, stop lines have been added at the exits. There are plans to install speed bumps at the bottom of each ramp to slow traffic leaving the facility and adding a center strip to guide traffic into lanes going both directions.
The Parking Committee is also discussing the installation of concave mirrors to help drivers see around blind corners, and additional signs to direct students around the building. For instance, the speed limit on district property is 10 mph, however, there are no speed limit signs in the garage.
Cpl. Michael Nemcic of the district’s department of public safety advises students parking in the garage to drive slower than that in the confined space.
According to Rockey, the committee always planned to adjust this project to meet the needs of the campus.
Although the garage is open to both students and faculty, eight spots on the north side of the first floor are reserved for the president and deans, and the dead-end alcove beneath the down ramp of the second floor is reserved for 14 administrators and two administrative visitors.
The decision to move reserved parking for deans and directors to the new garage was to free space east of Fletcher Administrative Center for 15 visitor parking spots.
There are still two spots reserved in Lot 13, however, because of mobility issues.
“Reserved parking is a convenience out of necessity,” Rockey said. “Fletcher is a one-stop-shop for student registration.”
The committee also is considering installing parking meters to prevent abuse of visitor parking.
To help ease traffic congestion, two speed bumps have been installed at Howard Street and a three-way stop has been put in place at Howard and West Locust streets.
This was done to give students several ways to get to the parking garage. Before the start of the semester, Rockey put up signs along Dewey Place and Howard Street to direct students to the garage.
District police officers have also been placed in key locations to help move traffic.
One officer positioned at the top of the parking garage can watch all traffic flow and direct other officers to problem areas, Rockey said.
Nemcic advises students who drive large vehicles to consider parking on surface lots because of low clearances and the limited mobility in the garage.
He also asks that students parking in the garage consider turning off car alarms because if an alarm accidentally goes off, it will set off other alarms in the vicinity, making it difficult for security personnel to hear someone who needs help.
Students looking for parking need to be aware that when traveling north on Main, they cannot turn left on Dewey from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. because of the no-turn-zone south of Travis Elementary.
Students traveling east on West Park Avenue cannot turn left on North Main, and students can no longer park on West Locust Street.
Rockey expects the parking situation to improve next semester as construction projects such as the new nursing and allied health and the academic complex are completed by fall.
Also, the leases for businesses in the Park Place office building at 1405 N. Main will run out at the end of August and September, opening up additional parking for the fall semester.