Study foresees parking shortage

Despite a current modest parking surplus resulting from the completion of the Michael Street III and Peavine II decks, the campus parking outlook for the year 2000 is not especially rosy, according to a long-term campus parking study nearing completion.

The architectural firm Tippet Clepper & Associates conducted the study. Steve Clepper, one of the firm's principals, presented some of the study's preliminary findings at the Sept. 4 University Senate Traffic and Parking Committee meeting.

Clepper said the University plans to build 846,000 square feet of new construction between now and 2000. He said that one of two methods can be used to calculate how much additional parking will be needed to accommodate that growth: county code guidelines or extrapolation. According to a strict interpretation of county codes, Emory would need 2,814 additional parking spaces to accommodate planned growth. Using the extrapolation method, however, that figure drops to 1,622 spaces.

DeKalb County has traditionally allowed Emory to use the extrapolation method to determine parking supply, Clepper said, because extrapolation provides for a constant ratio of campus-wide parking to be maintained as new buildings are added. The county code method, on the other hand, requires a specific number of spaces per building based on the building's size. Clepper said the extrapolation method is more appropriate for Emory because the county code method does not take into account the communal parking situation at Emory, where people frequently park in one area of campus even though their final destination is in another area.

Even with the advantages of using the extrapolation method, adding 1,622 parking spaces on a campus where space is at an incredible premium will be a challenge, Clepper said. As a result, the campus is certain to face at least a short-term parking deficit in three to four years. Clepper outlined several possibilities for addressing the anticipated parking crunch:

* Vertical deck expansion: Clepper said it is possible to add one or two stories to Fishburne deck and one or two stories to the Peavine II deck. He also said a new deck could be constructed in Peavine lot next to the Peavine I deck.

* Increased promotion and use of alternative transportation: Emory provides MARTA cards for 778 employees, and another 154 employees carpool. Erick Gaither, director of Parking and Community Services, said that if all those employees drove to work alone, another deck would be needed to accommodate them. Gaither said he expects participation in the alternative transportation programs to increase in the years to come.

* Changing class and work schedules: Gaither said the vast majority of Emory College classes are held midweek from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., creating a huge demand for parking on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. At others times, such as afternoons, evenings and weekends, the parking decks are virtual ghost towns, he said. Gaither believes the University eventually will be forced to at least consider modifying its class schedules to spread parking demand more evenly throughout the day.

Clepper said he is in the process of writing his final report, which should be available soon. After the Traffic and Parking Committee makes a recommendation on the report, it will be forwarded to the full Senate.

--Dan Treadaway

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