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Walking path to erase 86 parking spots

Walking path to erase 86 parking spots

May 05
03:00 2016

Lisa Dreher | Staff Writer


A pedestrian pathway running across campus will displace 86 parking spots in front of Clark Hall, but students said removing these spaces in front of Clark Hall limits their options on an already crowded campus.

The Central Pedestrian Path will cut diagonally through the southeast corner of lot 27 located in front of Clark and Rawlins Hall, leaving about 369 spots unaffected. Construction on just this section in front of Clark will begin this summer and should be completed by November. The entire walkway will connect Apogee Stadium to the northeast corner of campus, parking director Geary Robinson said.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 4.33.52 PM

The sketches as of February 23rd, 2016 for the Clark Park central pedestrian path. Courtesy | TBG Partners

“The Central Pedestrian Path serves as a central spine to connect the southwest corner of campus to the northeast corner of campus,” Robinson said. “Additionally, it provides a clear, distinguishable and safe pedestrian access for all.”

This section will run from Rawlins Hall to Avenue C until future segments are added. The approximately 26-foot wide path will end around where the Art Building resides.

Robinson said removing several of lot 27’s parking spaces was needed to make room for the path, but students who park there said the location is too convenient to get rid of them. With Clark and Maple halls relying on the lot, and Crumley’s lot not being able to support it’s residency, every parking spot counts.

Development and family studies sophomore Sydney Hightower said she might get a permit to park in lot 27 again next semester, and feels that removing spaces exacerbates the university’s sweeping parking problem.

“I don’t think it would be a good idea, because there are two dorms right here and we need them for space,” Hightower said. “It would just crowd up every other parking spots because we have nowhere to park.”

The first section starts at Apogee and runs across the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 35 and to the Gateway Center’s arch. The next section from Gateway’s arch to Maple Street was installed with the addition of Rawlins Hall. This portion and Rawlins were completed in the fall of last year.

An estimated budget of $1.5 million is set for the entire path across campus, vice chancellor of administrative services James Maguire said. The whole project’s time of completion depends on how long construction on each segment lasts.

The Clark Hall director’s space and handicapped spots will be reassigned behind Rawlins Hall. Other spaces will be redrawn to accommodate the ones paved through, but there will still only be 369 spots left. Students can park in lot 20 of Fouts Field as Robinson said.

The sketches as of February 23rd, 2016 for the Clark Park central pedestrian path. Courtesy | TBG Partners

Sketches as of February 23rd, 2016 for the Clark Park central pedestrian path. Courtesy | TBG Partners

Mathematics sophomore Deanna Pierce parks in lot 27, and said she struggles finding a spot.

“Personally, it’s already hard to find a parking spot usually during the day, but it’s fine during the evening,” Pierce said. “Whenever classes are going on, it’s hard to go and then come back and find a parking spot. Them cutting down on it kind of sucks.”

The path is part of the Campus Master Plan 2013 update, which strategizes the university’s construction projects for the “next 20 years and beyond.” The plan includes added projects and improvements to previous projects to make the campus more welcoming and functional.

“The enhancements that are being made here at the university are really going to [help] in the long-run and help the university in its appearance,” Robinson said. “That’s what’s awesome to be a part of this master plan of not necessarily recreating but enhancing the university.”

The parking office will work with UNT System Facilities, Planning and Construction on redrawing lot 27’s spaces. Parking will also work with Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates as part of a 10-year Parking and Transportation master plan. This project is an offshoot of the master plan and focuses on the usage of buses, bicycles and walkways.

“The pathway was added to improve the pedestrian experience for students to make it easier to walk from different parts of campus,” Maguire said.

Maguire said the university worked with students and members from the Student Government Association on this part of the university’s master plan. He mentioned that he had not received any student complaints about the project.

“I haven’t heard anything like that but there where students involved who liked the idea of a better pedestrian pathway,” Maguire said.

Integrative studies junior Efrem Abera said there are enough options to walk around campus, but parking spaces are limited and taking out spaces in lot 27 would be inefficient.

“We already have limited parking spaces and we are already almost populated with our students, and so I think, if anything, there should be more parking spots available,” Abera said. “I think there are already enough walkways and people seem to be getting around just fine, but people still can’t seem to find parking spots in convenient places without having to park a mile away and then having to walk all over campus.”

Robinson said the parking office’s master plan could be finalized within the next 60 to 90 days, and that students must look to transportation alternatives rather than hope for more parking spots, because parking structures are costly.

“[Lot 27] is a main parking lot for campus and the parking here is so limited anyways, taking down a parking lot would just cause more trouble,” journalism freshman Lilly Ortega said.

Less parking means less parking tickets issued as the parking office’s revenue, but the office saves money and reduces its carbon footprint by being transit-oriented, Robinson said.

“Financially, sure it’ll have a negative impact, but this isn’t about making money,” Robinson said. “It’s about providing the service at a level that gives you viable options.”

Staff Writer Alejandro Medellin contributed to this report

Featured Image: Construction has already started outside of Rawlings Hall on the new pathway that will cut through the Clark Hall parking lot, removing about 60 parking spots. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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