Additional Parking Spaces Coming This Fall
July 25, 2016
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May
If you Google the words “campus,” “parking” and “nightmare” you will get approximately 24.3 million search results with many high-profile universities, as well as small colleges, mentioned.
Through social media comments, campus media outlets, and general conversation, students, faculty and staff have openly stated that our university is right there with them.
SHSU administrators have heard the complaints about parking and acknowledge that with the rapid growth of enrollment, the need for facilities and personnel to accommodate that growth, and the fact that the university has reached the limits of its physical boundaries, those concerns are, indeed, justified.
A number of changes will be phased in beginning this fall, with the intention of making the parking experience much more positive than it has been in recent years, according to Vice President for Finance and Operations Carlos Hernandez.
“We have to address the changing infrastructure requirements that have been brought on by the rapid growth of the university,” he said. “Pedestrian safety and parking availability are certainly among our priorities.”
New technology will be utilized for parking enforcement, along with changes in the management of the parking space inventory.
“Primarily, that will be achieved by the reduction in the over-sold spaces from 1:8 to 1:2,” Hernandez said. “Not everyone is on campus 100 percent of the time; however, the majority of our faculty and staff are here during peak hours. Universities typically over-sell parking spaces, but we are reducing our ratio to help alleviate the congestion that is taking place.”
Zone 1, for faculty and staff, has been separated into east and west designations for parking during regular business hours. Zone 2 covers the areas around campus just beyond Zone 1, and does not have the east and west designation. This zone is for students who commute to campus. The lots in Zone 3 are on the outer perimeter of the university.
The best news, however, is that additional spaces will be available, beginning in the fall.
“From fall 2015 to fall 2016, the total number of spaces will increase roughly by 300,” Hernandez said. “By spring 2017, we expect to activate an additional 300 spaces on Avenue J where the old Bearkat Bookstore was located and at the former location of the Sunrise Apartments on 15th Street.”
More parking will be available in fall 2017 off Sycamore Avenue, with an accessible walkway to campus.
“Although these lots are further from campus than those already established, they provide the most affordable parking for our students,” he said. “The reality is that all the parking inventory being added is no more than a half mile from campus. None is more than a block away from where current parking exists.”
The City of Huntsville also is adding paid parking on Bearkat Boulevard and Bobby K. Marks Avenue, which will provide more than 200 additional parking spaces for commuters and others who choose to pay for parking by the hour. Even those with SHSU parking permits who park in those spaces must comply with city requirements and pay the required charge, which currently is $1.25 per hour, plus a 25-cent service charge.
When asked about shuttles, Hernandez said, “Shuttle systems are designed to support parking that is at least two miles away. A shuttle would also require additional funding, which would have to be approved by the legislature, or come from student service fees or increased parking fees. It’s just not a feasible option right now.”
To those who question why SHSU is not building more parking garages, Hernandez explains that it’s simply a matter of cost.
“Parking garage construction is very expensive,” he said. “It averages around $20,000 per space to build. The increase we are implementing in the cost of parking permits is insufficient to cover the cost of building a structure. Also, we are trying to provide affordable parking for our students, and garage parking is very expensive.”
Hernandez did say that programming has been completed for two additional garages, to begin once funding is in place.
“Everyone will see continuing improvement over time,” he said. “We are working toward a better overall parking experience for everyone.”
For additional information about upcoming parking changes, download the 2016-17 Parking Information Session summary document, found on the SHSU Parking and Transportation website.
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