Parking on campus gets more complicated

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Students returning from a restful spring break may find their lives suddenly more hectic when they discover more than 200 parking spaces on campus have vanished.

Beginning on March 22, construction will block off part of the parking lot southwest of Avenue J and Bowers Blvd. for the building of the new science complex. The parking lot, currently the second largest green permit lot on campus, recently had a temporary Barnes and Noble store at the location where the new building will be located.

Colonel Dennis Culak, assistant director of the university’s public safety services, said 210 spaces will be gone when students return from spring break. He said that he expects for there to be some confusion the Monday after the break and that students will have to adjust their schedules to deal with the change.

“Students will have to allow extra time from having to park farther away,” Culak said.

The new project marks the latest new construction effort that will offer more teaching facilities at the cost of parking spaces. Culak said that construction near White Hall ended up costing nearly half of the spaces for the Health and Kinesiology Center.

Along with students, Culak added that faculty and staff also have complained about loss of their parking spaces with construction behind the Smith-Hutson Business Building. Still, Culak said that similar situations occur at most universities, and that loss of convenience in parking is one of the trade-offs for having better facilities.

“This won’t be the first time parking has been lost to a new building, and this won’t be the last time either,” he said.

Culak said that many students will have to plan to park farther away from the main part of the university. He also said that the coliseum parking lot is still the only lot on campus that is not filled to capacity.

He added that if students still want convenience, there is plenty of parking space available at the new parking garage. The university sold the last $200 contract on March 5, but there are still plenty of daily spaces available. The cost is $2 for the first hour and $1 for each additional hour, with a maximum charge of $8 a day.

The average student pays $3 to $5 dollars a day, which Culak said will be an incentive for students who wish to park close to campus but don’t wish to pay a $20 fee for illegally parking.

The cost of the new science facility will be $18 million, and the complex will feature 60,000 square feet of workspace. The new building will house the chemistry and forensic science programs, with physics remaining in the Farrington Building.

John McCroskey, the assistant director for facilities and construction, said the new complex will take up even more spaces than what was lost when the Barnes and Noble store was located at that spot. He said the location was chosen due to its proximity to the existing science building.

“There was no other location adjacent to the Farrington Building,” McCroskey said.

The project is being funded by a tuition revenue bond authorized by the Texas State Legislature, and construction will begin by mid-April. The facility will be built by the Houston office of Bartlett-Cocke General Contractors. McCroskey said the construction site will be closed following spring break to avoid any parking issues leading up to the start of the project.

“If we don’t block the lot off now, we’ll never get all the cars out of there,” he said.

McCroskey said he expects the building to be completed by December of 2005.