Parking spots dwindle as ticket numbers rise

Photo by Isaac Wright

Frustrated Tech commuters say getting a parking ticket is a better alternative than being late to class or trying to find a parking space on a campus not disrupted by construction.

One of the biggest parking lots closed this semester as workers begin construction on the new science building on Stadium Drive across from Southwest Hall.

The project cost commuters 688 parking spaces, although 650 were added on the west side of the campus, Tech parking clerk Carrie Harris said.

The change has left some drivers facing other alternatives.

Morgan Chaffin, a junior business management and marketing major, said she is unhappy with campus parking.

“There is no parking. You either show up 30 minutes before class just to find a space 100 miles away or end up being late,” she said.

Chaffin said she does whatever it takes to avoid missing class, even if it means receiving a parking ticket.

“I’m not going to allow Tech’s fault or lack of planning for parking spaces hinder my education. So, if a $20 ticket means I make it to class on time, that’s my only option,” she said.

Bret Coy, a parking enforcement associate, is the one of the individuals responsible for ticketing drivers who do not follow the rules.

He said the decrease in parking causes some students to park in areas they are not assigned to, which results in what he perceives to be an increase in tickets.

“It has sort of pushed parking into other areas. Sometimes they kind of take the risk and park where the shouldn’t and they end up getting tickets because of it,” he said.

Campus police records, however, show the number of tickets issued this January is lower than the same month a year ago.

In January of 2017, enforcers issued 707 parking citations compared with 656 issued last month, a decrease of about 7 percent, according to records.

Although there were two less school days this year due to snow, the daily average increased by about 2.1 percent, according to the records.

Chaffin isn't the only displeased student on campus. Kelli Kent, a junior communication major, said finding parking is a miserable situation that is progressively getting worse for her.

Kent said she often leaves 45 minutes early to ensure she has enough time to find parking and walk to class even though she only lives five minutes from campus.

“I stay getting parking tickets. It’s honestly ridiculous. Typically, if I can’t find parking, I will just park in a 30-minute space. I’ve also gotten a ticket for parking in a gold space. There was no sign that said it was gold, so I’m honestly still confused,” she said.

Coy offered his advice for avoiding getting a parking ticket.

“Either park in the area that’s assigned to you by the pass, or you can park across Willow. Most of the parking is over there, but it’s not being utilized,” he said.

Tech officials previously announced plans for creating 1,057 parking spaces west of Tech Village with shuttle service to central campus. Phase one of the plan is scheduled to begin in July with modifications to North Dixie Avenue and William L. Jones Drive.

Phase 2 of the plan is scheduled to begin in 2019 and includes a parking garage with more than 600 spaces and an estimated parking pass price of $400, according to University records.

Chaffin said she still isn’t impressed with the parking plans.

 “I didn’t even know they had plans for a garage, but I can tell you that it’ll be easy to find parking, because no one is going to pay $400. It’s outrageous,” she said.