U Looks at Parking Solutions

Norm Chambers took a chance and published that the U would have access to Mount Olivet parking lot in the 2002 Campus Commuter Survival Guide.

Serving as University of Utah director of Auxiliary Services, Chambers hoped the Salt Lake City Council would grant an exception to the zoning laws and allow the U to build a temporary parking lot on property owned by Mount Olivet Cemetery?but they didn’t.

Months ago, the cemetery?s owners gave the U permission to construct a 1,300 space lot to be used from Nov. 2001 to March 2002. During that time, the U will lose 3,200 parking spaces to the Olympics. The U saw the parking lot as the only solution to its impending, serious parking problem. Now they are scrambling to come up with other temporary solutions.

“I felt it was going to be a slam dunk,” Chambers said. “I did not expect to be in this position. I thought we had found a solution to the problem months ago.”

Mayor Rocky Anderson could have approved the parking lot with support of the Salt Lake City Council. Originally, the council planned to consider the lot during its Oct. 16 meeting. However, the council did not feel the U had satisfied public notice laws, so it pushed the discussion of the lot to mid November.

U administrators expressed disappointment in the council?s decision.

“November is too late,” Chambers said. So the U dropped the project.

“Cold temperatures and high chance of rain or snow make November a horrible time to do any sort of construction,” he said.

Director of Parking and Transportation Services Alma Allred said the U had planned to complete construction in order to have the lot open for students in November. Allred said complaints from nearby residents stopped the lot?s construction.

On Nov. 25, the west parking lot of Rice-Eccles stadium will close, leaving U students with 1,000 fewer parking stalls.

Now the U must look at alternatives to relieve the parking problems.

“We are looking at every possible solution,” Chambers said.

Near the end of November, Wasatch Drive (north of the Eccles Broadcast Center) and Federal Way will become one way streets to provide parking on both sides of the road. This will create 500 parking spots, Chamber said. The speed limit on these roads will drop to 10 miles per hour and the adjustment will only be in effect when school is in session.

Chambers said the U is doing everything in its power to improve the situation.

“We have even looked at asking neighboring churches to let us use their parking lots when school is in session,” he said.

But solutions like this one create other problems. For example: How do shuttles transport students who park in these areas to campus? Chambers said.

The U requested additional parking along Guardsman Way and on some streets in Research Park from the city, Chambers said. Other proposals include using the large parking lot at Franklin Covey Field and shuttling students to campus.

“We don’t know if these proposals will go through, I can only say we are doing the best we can to provide parking for the students,” Chambers said.

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