Dude, where can I park my car?
Parking services looking at different options for improving parking on campus
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 20:07
Recently the university completed a routine transportation and parking survey that will help university entities to ensure improvements in the locomotion of people in and around campus.
“We are working right now on a collaborative effort, the city and OSU, to manage a better flow of transportation to and from campus,” said Dawn Thomason, associate director of Administrative Services and Transit & Parking Services. “We just completed a parking survey. We do one every year.”
As part of the university and the city’s collaboration project, the neighborhood parking and traffic mitigation work group looks into ways to optimize transportation and parking within the community so that the expansion of OSU does not generate unwanted congestion.
According to Thomason and Hank Kemper, operation supervisor of TAPS, the survey conducted on transportation and parking remains too fresh to reveal any concrete details that will come from the findings, but the two say plans to improve parking on campus have top priority.
For some time the university has looked into ways to improve shuttle routes on campus to maximize efficiency, so that people parking further away from the campus core could still reach their classes without having to park within proximity. The university plans to eventually introduce a third shuttle route on campus, but the ideal path of travel for the shuttle still needs determining. Thomason said the university also hopes to improve route signage to make using the shuttle system easier for riders.
Installing additional parking, in the form of a parking garage structure on the north side of campus, remains a possibility in the far off future, if parking needs at the university rise to a level that warrants the construction. This would put more parking closer to classrooms and offices to meet student and faculty demand. According to Kemper, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance gets full consideration in any plan the university undertakes and a fail safe exists in the university’s current development plan to indicate when structural changes should occur.
“We are very aware campus is going to be growing and could very rapidly,” Kemper said. “We will be doing anything we can to help with the cultural shift.”
As the university population blooms, OSU plans on looking into ways to encourage people to use more “green” alternatives to travel around the community. Measures to promote more people to walk, ride bikes or use public transportation could include aggregating student housing closer to campus and using incentive policies to get people to make these lifestyle changes.
“I live a mile from campus. It’s cheaper, especially when gas is four dollars a gallon,” said Travis Moore, a post baccalaureate student in food science, about how he always rides his bike to school. “Plus it’s more convenient than driving; I never have to look for parking. I can just pull right up to outside my classes.”
For students who do not live close enough to campus to utilize alternative transportation, finding ideal parking can still cause problems.
“I don’t have a parking pass and it takes lots of time to hunt for a space,” said Jayne Lack, a sophomore in graphic design. “I wish I had more options.”
Lack indicated the cost of a parking permit as the reason she chooses not to buy one.
Parking close to the core of campus will soon turn into more of a challenge for students who do not have a parking pass, because one of the biggest centers of metered parking, the Memorial Union parking lot, will soon disappear as the Student Experience Center gets constructed on the site this summer. Metered or limited-time parking will follow the Beaver Bookstore to its new location by the parking garage.
Thomason and Kemper encourage students who have a hard time finding parking to try using the under utilized parking spaces found near Reser Stadium or in the parking garage.
“I feel like it’s not an issue if you aren’t picky or don’t care,” said Hannah Raines, a senior in biochemistry/biophysics and Spanish. “I mean if you have problems just go to the parking garage. I’ve never seen it more than half full.”
Alex Hilborn, reporter
On Twitter: @Alex_Hilborn