New garage construction causes parking disruptions

Paul Cobler

Construction of the East Campus parking garage and a new tennis center has removed access to parking lots 103 and 104, two of the largest surface parking lots on campus.

To offset the loss of these spaces, two temporary gravel parking lots were added last spring at the corners of Comal and 21st streets and Leona Street and E. Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Parking and Transportation Services is exploring the possibility of adding more temporary gravel lots this fall in East Campus, said Bobby Stone, director of PTS.

“The East Campus garage will add significantly more spaces than those lost from [lots] 103 and 104,” Stone said. “The garage is being built in two phases, with the first phase of 1,200 spaces to go online in May of 2017.”

Additionally, the Health Center Garage is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, adding 1,200 parking spots that will service students and faculty in the medical complex area of campus, Stone said.

PTS also no longer requires students who need a handicapped parking spot to purchase a disabled parking permit.

“[American Disability Act] parking was simplified,” Stone said. “Students only need to display a state-issued ADA placard or plate and any valid UT Austin daytime student permit.”

Chemistry sophomore Elissa Salem, who commutes from her home in South Austin, believes more parking still needs to be added on campus despite the expected changes.

“I have a parking garage spot, so it’s nice to know I’ll always have a spot,” Salem said. “But I definitely think there needs to be more parking, because I know people who always have an issue.”

For students parking around the Erwin Center or in the East Campus lots, PTS has two UT mailing lists set up to alert students of parking disruptions because of construction or campus events.

Finance senior Alex Hui thinks campus parking is overpriced for the amount of issues and disruptions that students face when searching for spots.

“It’s kind of inconvenient a lot of times, and it’s very overpriced for what people get,” Hui said. “I do think the added parking will be good for students to have more parking spaces available, because I know it can get crowded and hard to find parking during the school year.”

UT students have access to several alternatives to parking on campus, such as the shuttle system.

“The shuttle system provides an easy and cost-effective way for students, faculty, staff and visitors to access the UT campus,” Stone said. “The use of the shuttle by students just requires them to swipe their UT ID to ride, and there is no charge to board for students.”

Stone said she suggests students consider whether or not they need to drive to campus at all.

“Forgo a permit and use the bus system, bicycle or walk to campus,” Stone said. “If you have to drive, consider forming a carpool. It’s good for the state, it’s good for the city, and it’s good for UT.”