Every student knows about the challenge of parking on or around campus. With Tech being in Full Flight, these challenges are even more intense. More classes are in-person, meaning more students on campus, and therefore more cars looking for a spot. Tech’s master plan details Tech’s proposal to combat the parking issue.
Tech’s Master Plan – which is fluid and is currently being modified – will continue construction this fall to bring building renovations, more green space and pedestrian malls. The addition of green space however, will in turn remove parking spaces. Some spaces will be taken up by construction or removed completely to make room for the promised new engineering building, which will occupy Sherlock Park. Walton Park, on the President’s lawn, will make up for the loss of Sherlock’s green space.
Chuck Roberts, Associate Vice President for Facilities, shared which parking lots will be affected. “ . . . parking that’s by 10th street will go away . . . With the new engineering building, you’re going to have some of the parking go away on the street side,” Roberts said.
He assured students, though, that these changes are for their benefit. “A lot of the parking or driving spaces that you see are going to go away under the Master Plan are actually really driven by pedestrian safety.”
Although some spots are being removed, there will also be parking spaces added. Concerning the lot across from Byan Fine Arts, Roberts shared, “We’ve extended that parking lot to get about 40, 44-45 more spots in there. And that’s pretty central.”
The lot outside of Southwest Hall is currently under construction in preparation for what will come. Parking lots will be built now, before construction on buildings begins, so that students will still have a place to park. “We set up a temporary lot with gravel . . . What we’re trying to do is get out in front of the construction . . . So actually we’re getting additional parking right now,” Roberts said.
As the number of students increases, and the Full Flight initiative continues, the University is planning to implement a parking garage. “We’re doing the preliminary planning of a parking garage as well . . . We’ve got three areas that have been identified,” Roberts shared. The parking garage would add over 400 spaces. Construction is expected to begin within two years.
Tech’s shuttle system will go hand in hand with the parking garage, bringing students into and out of campus. It will also be affected by the pedestrian malls promised in the Master Plan, however.
“So, we’ve got to consider again how we’re trying to keep pedestrian traffic free of vehicles. So that’s all vehicles, that’s our delivery trucks or maintenance vehicles, even our shuttle system . . . ” said Kerri Demeri, Director of Auxiliary Services. “The goal is always that we’re able to accommodate the most students as possible by moving them on campus in a safe way. And the shuttle does that.”
According to data provided by Demeri, the shuttles have been boarded 43,079 times in the past year. Had it not been for the coronavirus, these numbers would be even higher. This month, they have been boarded 2,023 times, though students were not in attendance for the full month.
The Master Plan will bring many improvements to Tech’s campus, but the entire plan will most likely take close to 20 years to complete.
“[The Master Plan] wouldn’t be something that’s static, right, it’s dynamic. It has a life, that master plan has a life. And so it grows with the university,” said Demeri.
While parking may seem tight right now, Tech hopes the Master Plan ensures a high-flying future for parking at Tech.