Garage offers parking solution
BACK TO BASICS
Published: Monday, February 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 18:05
As I sat down last week to begin writing this article in the Mandel Center for the Humanities, I noticed a car illegally parked across the street. I imagine that the driver was frustrated by the lack of parking spaces on campus and decided to stop in the striped zone usually designated for pedestrians. Later that day, while walking to my dorm from the Shapiro Campus Center, I saw a car in the Science Lot with two wheels on the grass.
Again, there were not enough spaces available for all the faculty and staff, and the driver was clearly desperate enough to improvise and create his own space.
This type of parking hell is ubiquitous at Brandeis and requires a long-term solution, such as a parking garage.
Brandeis’ parking has two main problems: a shortage of spaces and an epidemic of people not parking in their assigned lot. In an email to the Justice, Senior Vice President for Administration Mark Collins said that the University has 2,299 parking spaces on campus. However, figures from the Office of Parking and Traffic indicate that faculty and staff alone have been issued about 2,100 parking permits. Students have been issued approximately 1,350 permits, which would bring the total number of permits well over the total number of spaces. And then there are guests that come to campus each day, such as prospective students and visiting lecturers, who probably drive cars too. According to this data, we are short over 1,000 spaces.
People also don’t park where they are supposed to park. According to the Office of Parking and Traffic, 6,927 parking citations were issued on campus in 2011. Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan explained over the phone that the majority of them were issued for “parking in a controlled area without the correct permit,” which basically means parking in the wrong lot, according to the Department of Public Safety. Understandably, no one wants to walk from the Theater Lot to Olin-Sang on a cold New England morning. Shuttles, such as the campus shuttles that currently run throughout the day for students, ought to be arranged twice a day, at the beginning and end of the workday, for the specific purpose of transporting faculty, staff, and students between the parking lots and their respective buildings.
Maintaining a shuttle service around campus would allay people’s concerns of walking to their office across campus on cold or rainy days, especially if the parking garage is located near the Spingold Theater Center.
An ideal solution to these two problems is to centralize parking by constructing a parking garage on campus. A parking garage would increase the number of spaces on campus without taking up additional land, which would help close the gap of spaces to parking permits. It would also provide a more central location for parking on campus from which campus shuttles could transport drivers to their respective buildings. This would cut down on illegal parking and reduce parking congestion in other lots.
Other benefits to a parking garage might be less obvious. Large plots of land behind the Spingold Theater Center are currently designated parking lots. The construction of a very large parking garage could eliminate the need for one of those lots, freeing up the land for the University to use for other needs, such as new dormitories or a field.
Additional parking could also bring the University’s parking standards in line with those of other schools. Many schools offer parking to sophomore students, which the university recently terminated. An increase in spaces could allow the University to reinstate sophomore parking. Several larger schools, such as Tufts University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Vanderbilt University, have a parking garage to accommodate the large number of cars on campus. As Brandeis admits larger classes each year and hires more faculty and staff, the number of cars on campus will continue to increase. It would be appropriate to construct a parking garage to accommodate this growth and prevent more traffic congestion.
The idea of building a parking garage has been considered and understandably postponed by the administration because of its excessively high cost and potential financing challenges. Collins estimates that the price per space of a garage could be upwards of $25,000, as he indicated in his email to the Justice. In such a case, a 500-space parking garage could cost over $12.5 million. With that estimate in mind, it is worthwhile for the construction of a garage to be incorporated into the strategic planning process for consideration further down the road, especially given other projects that may be more immediately pressing. Nonetheless, the construction of a parking garage is very important. Parking may sound like a minute detail in the scheme of a university, but operating a university gets tricky if people can’t find a place to leave their car.