Acute parking

Erin Ghere

Parking on the University’s Minneapolis campus is a few short months from becoming more difficult.
At the end of winter quarter, crews will demolish the lot directly south of the new Gateway Center to make way for construction of a new underground parking facility scheduled to open in December 1999.
Besides the underground construction and the already complete demolition of the East River Road ramp, at least one carpool lot and possibly one contract lot will become void at the end of this year because of University construction.
All told, construction projects will expropriate nearly 700 parking spaces from commuters in the coming months.
So what should students do in the meantime?
“The best thing for people is to consider alternative options of transportation first,” said Cari Hatcher, spokeswoman for Parking and Transportation Services.
Bus use, biking and carpooling are all options that parking and transportation suggests, she said.
She added that the spaces in the Huron Boulevard parking lots will still be available.
Others think the shift will not be immediate.
“In light of the construction, we won’t see tons of people jumping on their bikes,” said Cynthia McArthur, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Community Bike Safety Project at the University.
She also suggested that people do not have to make an all-or-nothing switch.
Rather, students can drive part-way and park in a lot or on a street outside of the University, then bike or walk the rest of the way to campus, she said.
“The incremental options will appeal to more people,” she said.
And the temporary alternatives to driving to campus may have to become permanent for some.
The underground parking facility next to the Gateway building will contain 300 parking spaces; the original lot had more than 1,200.
Construction of the Gateway Center took over the first portion of the lot in lieu of parking spaces. The remainder of the lot, which will empty in March, makes up the last 343 of the 1,240 original spaces.
“(The underground facility) will be finished within this calendar year,” said Eric Kruse, newly named vice president for University Services.
Still, 900 parking spaces will be lost because of the Gateway Center.
The construction of a new hockey/tennis center will eliminate Lot 33, one of the carpool lots on Fourth Avenue Southeast after spring quarter.
That lot holds 420 spaces that carpoolers can use for $1.25 per day. To continue the support of carpoolers, Lot 37, across Fifth Avenue from Lot 33, will be converted into a commuter lot, but that parking area has about 60 less spaces.
In November, demolition began on the East River Road ramp, which was home to 1,684 spaces, Hatcher said.
An underground parking facility will be built in its place, with construction beginning in April and scheduled to be completed in fall 2000. At this time, the project is on schedule, Hatcher said.
The new garage will hold only 26 more spaces and the change will have left the nearly 1,700 drivers out in the cold for nearly a year.
Additionally, contract lot C-91, with its 63 spaces, will potentially be demolished to make way for Grand Marc, a graduate student housing complex in the Seven Corners area of the West Bank. The housing has not been finalized and has yet to be approved by the Board of Regents.
If approved, the construction could begin as soon as June.
Contract spot holders need not fret as parking and transportation will relocate their spaces, Hatcher said.
One area of campus that will be gaining parking spaces — rather than losing them — is the West Bank Office Building ramp. An expansion of 120 spaces will begin in May and be completed in December 1999.
Finally, the St. Paul campus will be gaining more than 500 spaces when a parking ramp is built on Gortner Avenue, where public parking Lot 103 stands.
A portion of the ramp will be contract parking and a portion public parking when it is completed in August 2000. Construction will begin this summer.
All of the newly built parking ramps will have an hourly rate, except for the contract spaces.
Hatcher said there will definitely be a parking crunch until all replacement spaces are built.
“We expect a period of helping people find options that will work for them,” she said.