Funding issues surface around underground parking ramp

by Stacy Jo

A planned subterranean parking ramp below the University Gateway Center has become $2 million too ambitious, facilities management officials told a Board of Regents committee on Thursday.
But a new plan for an above-ground ramp could actually add up to 200 more parking spaces than the underground ramp would have.
Underground excavating revealed that the parking structure would have reached into the water table. Building the ramp in soil that was not strong enough to support the Gateway building would have exceeded the proposed funding, said Eric Kruse, vice president of University Services.
“I could no longer recommend to you that this was the right way to spend our resources,” Kruse said.
Funding for the project would have come from revenue raised from fees charged by the parking facility.
The $10 million underground parking structure would have accommodated 300 vehicles; it will instead be replaced by a 400- to 500-space surface parking ramp. This structure would be located between the Aquatic Center and University Avenue Southeast, across the street from Williams Arena. It will be similar in size to the 19th Avenue Parking Ramp on the West Bank.
The new plan also keeps the parking spaces behind the Radisson Hotel intact, although the parking lots might be re-oriented, Kruse said. The previous plan called for removal of the remaining above-ground parking in that area.
Regent Anthony Baraga asked presenters if the new plans would meet the parking needs in this area of campus.
Bob Baker, director for Parking and Transportation Services, replied by saying that parking services staff lives by the philosophy that “we’ll never be able to physically or economically meet all the parking demand.”