Trustees Hear Oly Parking Concerns

Norm Chambers gets a little worried when he thinks about March 7.

That morning, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee will have control of 29 percent of the University of Utah?s parking. By that afternoon, it will commandeer almost 46 percent as it gears up for the Opening Ceremonies of the Paralympic Games held that night. Nearly 54,000 people are expected to attend the event.

All the while, students?tens of thousands of them?will continue their day-to-day routines of coming to campus and going to class. But where will they park?

?It will take a whole lot of coordination to make that day work,? Chambers, director of auxiliary services, told the U?s Board of Trustees Monday.

In a presentation to the board, Chambers outlined the U?s strategy to combat parking congestion and to ease the burden on students.

?We don?t want to overly inconvenience the students,? he said.

However, U students will have to change their normal habits, as Olympic organizers will control an average of 30 percent of the parking spots from Nov. 25 to April 15.

Chambers, with the help of Parking and Transportation Services, is planning a coordinated campaign to lessen the traffic coming to campus.

They will begin a public relations campaign titled ?Bring Yourself to Campus (but not your car).? U officials will encourage faculty, staff and students to use Utah Transit Authority buses or light rail, along with the campus shuttle service.

Light rail ?will really save the day for us,? Chambers said. ?It will come every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. We will make sure we have a campus shuttle there ready to connect.?

They will also push for more car pooling by setting up a service, along with UTA, to connect students to their peers in their area who are looking for a ride to class.

A large part of the effort will center around the free ride U students already receive on light rail and buses with the use of their identification cards.

Still, Chambers told the Trustees, ?We think we need some more parking spaces.?

U President Bernie Machen has worked with Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson on a plan to create a temporary parking lot on an empty field on Sunnyside Avenue near the south end of campus.

The plan needs the approval of the City Council, which will vote on Oct. 16.

?We are nervous,? Chambers said. ?We are getting our contractors in line to start the week when they approve the plan. If we don?t do it, we are worried students will park in the streets around campus, and the neighbors won?t like that.?

Some of the residents near the field are unhappy with the proposal and are planning to voice their opposition at the City Council meeting.

Machen told the Trustees the U will ?benefit significantly in the long term,? but will take some immediate financial hits due to the Olympics. Trustees were given reports showing decreases in revenue for both parking services and the U?s residence halls. These shortfalls were taken into consideration in the U?s planning and do not threaten the financial solvency of these campus auxiliary services.

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