Survey says current campus parking adequate

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    PETER FERGUSO

    Students and faculty complaining about the lack of parking on campus may be surprised by the results of a recent survey. The survey, conducted by independent consultant Wilbur Smith Associates in association with the Sear-Brown Group, confirmed the belief by Lt. Steve Baker of the BYU Traffic Office that for the space allotted, BYU has sufficient parking to meet current needs.

    “Close-in parking probably does not meet demand,” Baker said, “but when you take into account outside lots, for example, the lots down by the stadium, there is probably enough.”

    Baker is enthusiastic about the changes that have been approved.

    “This has been an enforcement generated office for 15 to 20 years,” he said. “We’d like to move more towards prevention.”

    The survey, consisting of questionnaires given to all faculty and staff, as well as visual surveys of parking lots and cars parked on streets near campus over a six-month period, concurs with in-house studies and Baker’s perception. During peak demand times, over 2,000 stalls remain empty.

    Another problem, according to the survey, is that many illegally parked vehicles occupy reserved stalls, inconveniencing rightful users.

    “We have lots of citations for cars parked in the wrong zone or without a permit,” Baker said. “The enforcement is there, but it doesn’t vacate the stalls. That’s where we have a real perception that there isn’t enough parking.”

    According to survey results, approximately 100 stalls a day are lost to illegally parked cars. If those stalls were used by those with proper permits, the balance between cars and stalls would be appropriate.

    The survey’s purpose was “to assist the university in analyzing the overall system in place and to find some short-term and long-term recommendations.” From March to September, over 50 percent of the written surveys were collected from faculty and staff, and many observations were made.

    “With my experience, working with clients all over, it’s really a pleasure to work with a group of very dedicated and hard working individuals like Steve Baker, Paul Reese and Ed Cozzens,” said Ron Holms, the conductor of the survey.

    “But they are also quite knowledgeable and quite on top of things. … Working with those kinds of people makes me want to make my work as good as possible because I know I’m working with people that are pretty sharp.”

    Holms and his associates gave their recommendations in a formal printed form as well as through a presentation. The first recommendation they gave as Level 1 recommendations is to allot portions of faculty/staff lots to two-hour limit areas. The reasoning, according to the survey, is that 31 percent of faculty who responded to the surveys make three or more trips to and from campus every day.

    “We’ve been given the authorization to experiment in that,” Baker said.

    Another recommendation is to limit access to parking lots to cars with the appropriate permits only. Within the next three to four weeks, access to several faculty lots, including the lot just west of the Administration Building, will be controlled by a staffed traffic booth. This will keep those without permits from parking in that lot entirely, a measure aimed at reducing the current 40 percent of citations given to illegally parked vehicles, Baker said.

    “This will give us a chance to look at traffic flow, storage lanes and time frames before actually putting in any permanent fixture or control,” Baker said.

    If the control measures seem to be effective, more permanent installments, like a draw bar activated by a card swipe, will be considered.

    “The idea behind the controls is to prevent writing the citation,” Baker said. “Writing the citation isn’t all that effective because (illegally parked cars) still take up spaces … any monies collected for citations go to a general university fund. I operate off a yearly budget regardless of whether I collect one dollar or more.”

    The two other recommendations include three additional passenger drop-off zones across campus and providing additional parking south of campus. The three zones have already had their curbs painted white and signs are or should soon be in place. The new drop-off zones are northwest of the Administration Building, just west of the Harold B. Lee Library and south-southeast of the John A. Widtsoe Building. The drop-off zones, according to the survey, are to facilitate and encourage carpooling, now utilized by 18 percent of faculty and about 26 percent of students.

    Additional parking south of campus might be provided by spring of 1997 between 500 East and 600 East in part of a parking lot near 800 North.

    For long-term solutions, the report suggested several Level 2 recommendations to be implemented in two to five years. One includes modifying campus streets to be more accessible to vehicle flow like the 90-degree turn south of the Widtsoe Building.

    Another Level 2 recommendation is providing a shuttle service to encourage students and faculty to park in the lot southwest of the stadium and possibly re-allocating spaces to set aside closer student parking stalls for upperclassmen. These recommendations are still under consideration and have not been accepted or rejected, according to Baker.

    For the long term, the results of the survey recommended future evaluations to determine the need for a multilevel parking structure.

    Holms explained why such a structure isn’t a current necessity. “There were a number of things; one was cost. The cost of an above-ground parking structure is excessive; it’s quite a bit. You’re looking at, not counting the cost of the land, just to build a normal parking structure … probably about $15,000 a parking space.

    “Generally, what we find is that when the price of land is high, you are better off using surface parking or other means to be able to accommodate the demands for parking,” Holms said.

    He recommended future surveys to weigh the need for such a structure before further discussion.

    File photo

    GOT YA! A BYU traffic officer tickets an illegally parked vehicle in the parking lot east of the Wilkinson Center on Wednesday

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