COOKEVILLE – Parking is often a top concern on college campuses, but a new, two-phase plan proposed at Tennessee Tech University aims to address that issue – and includes a long-aforementioned, but costly, parking garage.
University officials presented the plan Thursday during a campus forum event. Boil down its glossier points and it means the construction of more than 1,600 spaces. While the first phase includes a bulk of those new spots – about 1,057 in a west perimeter lot – the second phase includes the construction of a parking garage, although its exact location has yet to be determined.
Phase one will cost an estimated $14.25 million. A designer could be assigned to the project as soon as July, and design should start by early September.
The garage in phase two would cost around $12 million and add more than 600 spaces. Cost wise, that’s nearly four times the per-space price to add an equivalent surface spot. Officials say project planning and design would begin in July 2017; construction is slated to begin in 2019.
While the university has not ID’d an exact location for the garage, one possible site is the surface lot behind the library.
Tech officials and outside consultants have been working on a parking plan for nearly two years; the matter is more urgent now considering the pending addition of new $85.5 million, 150,000-square-foot science building. Its construction will eliminate more than 850 spaces.
Claire Stinson, Tech’s vice president of planning and finance, said Tech needs an additional 1,300 spaces to accommodate its enrollment goals, per a parking study. The university has roughly 5,400 spaces currently; the school is at 90 percent parking capacity.
Also discussed: Tech’s plans to hike parking fees to cover construction, maintenance and operational costs. The fees will vary by zone with built-in increases over the years. Inner zones will vary between $205-155 annually initially. Perimeter parking, meanwhile, will cost $113 per year, a substantial increase considering current fees run $50 annually for faculty and administrative staff, $20 for clerical and support staff and $20 for students. The garage, when completed, would carry an Initial parking fee of $400 a year.
The proposed plan also calls for modifications on North Dixie Avenue, an area of “extremely high vehicle/pedestrian conflict,” officials say. The university recommends reducing it from four lanes to two with a center median and buffered bike lanes.