roundabout

UTSA is starting a construction project that will improve the flow of campus traffic when finished, but create parking shortages until then. On Mar. 10, the university will close Peace Lot (formerly Lot 3) to reconstruct the campus entrance at 1604 and Peace Blvd.

Upon completion in August, the entrance will feature a roundabout similar to the one on the south side of campus. The roundabout is designed to ease traffic congestion on Peace Blvd. by eliminating the four-way intersection and stop signs, and allowing quicker access to the nearby Bauerle Garage (also under construction) and east campus.

The construction will also include a new visitor information booth accessible from the roundabout, which will replace the booth situated along Peace Blvd. “We expect the visitor booth to be open on the Peace entrance in August 2012,” David Gabler, Associate Vice President of the Office of Communications said.

As part of the project, Peace Lot will be converted into a green space intended to beautify the campus and serve as the center of a new multibuilding quadrangle. Current UTSA shuttle and VIA stops in the area will be moved to spots along the perimeter of the green space, while the lawn itself is slated to be used as a gathering and recreational area. The space was funded with unspent power plant monies.

“During construction, shuttle routes that currently stop in (Peace Lot) will be modified. Some stops will be moved to the current shuttle stop area at Ford Lot (formerly Lot 7). The VIA stop will also be relocated during construction. Options are currently being reviewed,” Gabler said.

The green space, scheduled to be completed in November, and Bauerle Garage are part of the UTSA Master Plan, approved in 2009, which callsfor nearly all surface parking to be replaced with green spaces and parking garages.

However, with Peace Lot’s permanent closure in March, and the Bauerle Garage unfinished until August, current Peace Lot patrons must relocate to other parking areas like the Tobin Garage.

According to Gabler, certain permit holders can also ask for a pro-rated refund. “The Parking and Traffic Rules and Regulations allow a permit holder to return a permit and receive a pro-rated refund provided that certain conditions are met, including the return of the permit before Mar. 1,” Gabler said.

Not everyone is pleased with the change. Professor Deanna White, who has parked in Peace Lot for 31 years and has served on the Parking and Transportation Committee, was one of those forced to move.

“I changed to the (Tobin) Garage because I physically can not walk from across campus where the ‘A’ parking will be and teach four classes,” White said. “I agree that the entrances to the university need to be improved. However, eliminating the only surface parking lot on the north(east) side of campus is the most ridiculous move that I have seen on this campus in 31 years.”

White’s concern is for non-tenure track professors and staff who have low salaries, and are being forced to move and possibly upgrade to a much more expensive garage permit. “I am thinking about the faculty and staff who can not afford the price of garage parking. To me, this decision says to those people, ‘You do not count in the future of UTSA,'” White said.

However, the university will offer a discount for permit holders willing to upgrade. “Beginning Mar. 1, the parking office expects to offer a one-time opportunity for faculty/staff ‘R’ and ‘A’ permit holders to upgrade to a garage permit for the Tobin Garage, allowing for a 50 percent discount on the upgrade cost for the remainder of the year, as long as permits are available,” Gabler said. Normal annual pricing for the Tobin Garage is $464 for students and $726 for faculty. A faculty/staff “A” permit is currently $303.

Even for those who can afford the upgrade, availability will still be an issue for the remainder of the spring. The new garage and its 1200-spot capacity will result in a net increase in parking spots in the area, but not until August.

In the meantime, UTSA has announced that Spring 2012 permit holders must either move to a farther lot or purchase a Tobin Garage permit. “No one contacted me (personally) about my options. I heard about the plans in the ‘grapevine’ and then read the article on UTSA Today,” White said.

For Fall 2012, the university has proposed a four percent increase to the price of garage permits, including the new Bauerle Garage. The fall rate is expected to be $755 annually.

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