U Looks for Overflow Parking

When the University of Utah loses thousands of parking spaces to the Olympics, administrators plan to transform campus streets into parking lots.

It’s a dream come true to the first 148 drivers who own U passes and park in the business loop each morning. They’ll get curbside parking near the buildings where their classes are?even closer than instructors with A passes.

From Nov. 25 to Dec. 14, students can park along many roads on campus. Administrators’ curbside parking plans will solve some problems, while creating others.

After Thanksgiving Break, the business loop will be limited to one-way, west-bound traffic. Administrators also canceled shuttle services to the loop, making students walk to South Campus Drive to catch a shuttle.

Other roadside parking will be available on Wasatch Drive, Central Campus Drive and Guardsman Way. On these roads, the speed limit will be lowered. Cars will crawl along Wasatch Drive at 15 mph with tighter police patrol.

Temporary parking will provide 1,170 parking spaces, almost compensating for the 1,250 slots borrowed for Olympic use. In January, the number of slots used for Olympic preparation increases to 3,200.

Students with U passes can take advantage of curbside parking. Near the stadium roadblock on South Campus Drive, a new A Pass parking lot will provide parking for U employees.

“Even though our media campaign encourages people to take the bus, we are still scrambling around to find more places to park,” said Norm Chambers, director of auxiliary services.

After finals week, in December, Chambers’ office will analyze the current plan and decide whether it needs altering.

Last spring, U administrators thought they had found an answer to their problems, but they lost a fight against time.

They proposed a site located on Sunnyside Avenue for a large temporary lot, with parking for 1,300 cars.

After the owners of the property gave them permission, U officials paid to have the lot designed. Located off campus, the U needed special zoning permission from the city to build the lot. So the U put in a proposal asking for an exception to the zoning laws for the Olympics.

When neighbors got word of the lot, they were upset.

Pollyanna Pixton was one of those neighbors.

She didn’t like the idea that a field across from her home could become a parking lot. She hated the idea of changing the natural setting. She was also upset that nobody had told her.

The city council originally scheduled the U’s proposal for the Oct. 18 council meeting. However, after discussing the proposal, council members decided the U had not satisfied public notice laws and pushed back voting on the topic to mid-November.

Director of Parking and Transportation Services Alma Allred said that date was too late in the year to start construction. Cold temperatures and the chance of wet weather would make construction nearly impossible, Allred said in a previous interview.

“I felt it was going to be a slam dunk,” Chambers said, describing his disappointment in the council’s decision to postpone voting on the lot.

“I did not expect to be in this position. I thought we had found a solution to the problem months ago,” he said in a previous interview.

Mayor Rocky Anderson could have approved the parking lot with support of the Salt Lake City Council, but he didn’t.