New parking garage combines quality, quantity for commuters

Robyn Repya

Students vying for limited campus parking might face less of a headache when driving to class this semester.

In response to a demand for more campus parking, the University’s Parking and Transportation Services opened a new 1,900-space parking garage Tuesday on the East Bank.

The multi-million-dollar garage is located underneath the Riverbend Commons dormitory complex, which is being built behind Coffman Union.

“It’s cool because we need more parking,” said Matteo Halbesleben, a College of Liberal Arts sophomore and one of the facility’s parking attendants.

Bob Baker, the University’s director of parking and transportation, said the structure – which took three years to build – is state of the art, with the newest and most efficient parking garage technology available.

“We think it’s the biggest underground garage between Chicago and Denver,” Baker said.

Safety was a major component in planning the garage. Baker said 64 security cameras are strategically placed throughout the structure. The cameras are watched by the on-duty parking attendant and a security monitor in the Transportation and Safety Building on Washington Avenue.

Approximately 50 panic buttons are also scattered throughout the garage to optimize safety, Baker said. The buttons have an intercom that connects the user to the parking attendant. Hitting the button triggers the security camera system, which isolates the area surrounding the panic button and begins recording.

In addition to security provisions, many amenities were added for customer convenience, said Lori Vicich, communications director for Parking and Transportation Services.

The new garage has a car counter on each level, so if the level is full, a sign will flash before the motorist enters.

“It’s basically a real-time system for monitoring how full each level is,” Vicich said.

There has also been a significant effort to preserve and enhance the aesthetic value of the area, Baker said.

“The entire structure is concealed, so you don’t see a parking structure,” he said.

There are also plans to put a plaza on top of the garage, on the section that’s not underneath the new dorms.

The rates for the garage are about the same as the other parking ramps on campus, Vicich said, at $2.25 per hour, or $100 per month for contract customers.

Vicich said the number of contract spots the ramp will have depends on demand. She said if students wish to have a contract spot they will have to pay by semester, totaling over $400.

The ramp offers a pre-pay option for those paying by the hour. On the structure’s first level, drivers can pay with a credit card and do away with interaction with an attendant upon exit.

Baker said that although the garage is completed, there are still more plans for the space in the future.

“When Coffman opens next fall, there’ll be a tunnel connection to the ramp right under Delaware Street,” he said.

Robyn Repya welcomes comments at [email protected]