Tech to change parking system beginning in Fall of 2016

PARKING CHANGES – The map above displays the new parking zones Tech will implement beginning in the Fall of 2016. The color-coded zones demonstrate where students and faculty can park depending on the parking permit purchased.

Tennessee Tech University’s parking system will change beginning in the fall of 2016. Tech’s parking will transform into a zone-parking scheme, and the price of parking permits will increase for students, faculty and staff said Claire Stinson, vice president for planning and finance.

The cost of the parking project is estimated at more than $14.2 million. The new zone-parking scheme, which will be implemented in Fall 2016, will include four different zone levels: inner campus, student inner campus, residential and outer campus parking.

The fee for each zone will vary depending on the proximity to campus. Students, faculty and staff wishing to receive inner campus or residential parking permit will pay $155 for a parking permit. Those wishing to park in the outer campus zone will pay $93 for a parking permit. Over the course of the next eight years, an additional $15 will be added to inner and residential parking, and a $9 fee will be added to outer campus parking permits. Students, faculty and staff will pay the same fees depending on the location of parking.

“Everyone who parks pays,” said Stinson.

Currently, students pay $20 per semester to park on campus, while faculty and administrative staff pay $50 a year. The parking fee has been included in the campus access fee in the past. Once the new parking scheme is implemented, students will see an additional parking fee on their accounts apart from the campus access fee.  

Faculty and staff will have priority choice when choosing a parking permit in the fall of 2016. The University is in the process of choosing the order of priority for students.

Elijah Fetzer, an environmental and sustainability studies major acknowledges the negative attitudes students might have to this change.

“It only affects the driving population in the long run,” said Fetzer. “Only affecting the driving population now seems a little bad since the current driving population likely won't get to use the lots built with this money.”

After the spring of 2023, parking fees are proposed to remain the same.

Other universities such as Middle Tennessee State University and Eastern Tennessee State University have comparable parking permit prices to the new Tech parking fees. At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, parking permits range from $136 to $321.

Stinson also addressed the stricter parking enforcement that will take place in the fall of 2016 as the zone-parking scheme is implemented.

Tech will spend an additional $47,300 on new employees to write parking citations for illegal parking violations on campus. Stinson said the University hopes to hire four to six people to issue citations. Stinson said University administration is discussing the possibility of hiring students to issue parking citations.

“Enforcement will tremendously increase,” said Stinson.

In 2015, the University generated $255,000 from parking fines, said Stinson. After the spring of 2017, Stinson said the University expects to receive $505,320 from additional parking fines to aid in paying for the new parking changes on campus.

As Tech moves to a pedestrian campus, the shuttle system will become an alternative way for students to easily access campus. Stinson and university administration believe the shuttle system will provide an efficient and timely process for students to reach the entire campus. Stinson said the shuttle system will complete one route in less than seven minutes. Routes for the shuttle system will change as the new parking zones are implemented.

A bike share program will be implemented in the outer parking for students to rent for quicker access to campus. The bikes will be free for students to use and serve as an extension from the pre-existing bike share program in the residential halls.

The planning process for a parking garage will begin in the fall of 2016 as well. Stinson said a parking garage fee will be implemented in the fall of 2019.

Stinson said each phase to create a parking garage has to be approved before construction can begin. Approval for the fee for a parking garage has to be approved before moving forward with an architect design or financing for the structure.

In the campus master plan, three separate parking garages are proposed, and Stinson stated university officials are still deciding the location of a parking garage.

Tech President Philip Oldham and Stinson will hold a meeting regarding parking changes for faculty, staff and students to attend on Thursday, March 24 during dead hour. Attendance is open to the public. 

UPDATE: The dead hour meeting on Thursday, March 24, will take place in Derryberry Hall Auditorium. This meeting is open to faculty and staff.