DPS study shows ISU parking is sufficient

Zach Calef

The Department of Public Safety is nearing the end of its five-year campaign to decide whether to build another parking ramp to keep up with Iowa State’s rising enrollment.

Doug Houghton, parking division manager, said the university is not in “dire need” of a parking ramp at this time because there are enough parking spots at the Iowa State Center. Students can ride to campus for free via the orange CyRide bus route from the center parking lots.

“We don’t really have the problem that a parking ramp would address,” Houghton said. However, he said, there is a long-term issue of increased enrollment, which may result in the need for more parking.

“We’re trying to figure out how to deal with growth and the come-and-go traffic of visitors and students who need to drop off papers and stuff,” he said.

Vanessa Smith, graduate student in food science and human nutrition, said she uses the current system and is satisfied with it.

She said the need to have immediate access to central campus is not a priority for most students.

“Some people would like a permit because they would like to get right on campus,” said Smith, citing that nontraditional students have the most need for immediate access. “Nontraditional students should have more access to campus because they have other priorities.”

Loras Jaeger, director of DPS, said the main reason the university would need a new parking facility right now is “people want direct access to the central core of campus.”

“There is a desire for students and visitors to park as close to central campus as possible,” he said. “A parking ramp or parking garages are probably the only solution.”

Houghton said the main problem with building a parking ramp is the cost and how to fund it.

“If we were to do this we would have to look at our fee structure,” he said. “Bluntly, we would have to up costs across campus.”

Houghton said the first engineering report on the ramp was released Sept. 12. The estimated construction costs are about $5 million to $6 million. Project management would be expected to pay around 25 percent of the construction costs.

Houghton said DPS is given an annual $2 million budget to cover three major expenses — wages and salary; operating expenses; and capital projects, which includes construction and renovations. Part of the parking structure would be funded through the capital projects expense, he said.

Each year $200,000 is set aside, so by the end of the five years, there will be about $1 million for the structure. To date about $800,000 has been collected.

Jaeger said he expects the remaining $4 million to $5 million to come from a “significant increase in permit parking.”

Houghton said there haven’t been any options recommended but “there are no plans to raise fees.”

Both Jaeger and Houghton said they would worry about pedestrian safety if the ramp were built.

“It would lead to clean-up problems, and it would lead to pedestrian problems,” Houghton said.

Jaeger said the problems would depend on the location. “Certainly if the parking structure is located near central campus, there will be more pedestrians there,” he said.

The department is having problems finding room for a parking ramp, Houghton said, because the west side of campus is full and the east side of campus is close to being full, if not full. The other option, he said, is to construct it on the north side of campus, but there are long-term plans to build academic buildings in that area.

Houghton said the department will make their official decision in June 2002.