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MSU exploring campus parking options

- Bozeman, Montana, US

With Montana State University nearing capacity use of its existing 5,121 parking spaces, MSU officials have been meeting with various campus governance groups to explore options for improving parking availability on campus.

The university is evaluating several options to improve parking availability, according to Bob Lashaway, associate vice president of University Services. Near-term options being considered include:

  • opening additional parking spaces west of the stadium for daily use, which would create an additional 600 spaces;
  • completing the paving of the South Fieldhouse Lot and expanding the number of S/B permit spaces;
  • expanding the SUB pay lot to increase convenience for short-term visitor parking,

Options that might be considered for future implementation include:

  • contracting with a shuttle service to transport people from the stadium lot to the SUB;
  • building a parking garage, which would be a longer-term alternative.

The first three options can be combined to maximize results and provide immediate parking relief.

"We've explored a number of ideas and have received a great deal of input on these different options," Lashaway said. "This important feedback has guided the process, and we continue to invite input as we move forward."

Cost of the options varies. If the first three options are combined, there would be an estimated base increase in campus parking permits of $5 a year for two years ($10 total). MSU officials estimate that the shuttle option would increase the cost of parking permits by an additional $17 per year ($27 total).

Although not being strongly considered at this time, initial estimates for a 450-space parking garage indicate it would cost approximately $8.1 million to construct, according to Lashaway. He added that with long-term debt costs included, it could total $12 million over 20 years. Covering the resulting debt service would require fairly significant increases for all parking permits, even if parking garage permits were sold at premium prices and a portion of the garage were used for hourly pay parking. If the university considered a parking garage, it would most likely be built on an existing lot, which would result in approximately 300 new spaces. A parking garage will not meet short-term demand, since it would most likely not be completed and ready for operation until fall 2016, Lashaway said. The other improvements being explored could make significant additional parking spaces available for fall semester 2013. A document with more information on the options is available at the MSU website.

In addition, MSU is evaluating future security improvements related to the northeast residence halls, such as installing additional blue light emergency phones, increasing lighting along specific pedestrian corridors and pruning landscaping to improve both lighting and visibility.

By Montana statute, university parking enterprises must be self-sustaining. No state funds from a legislative appropriation or tuition dollars can be used to operate and maintain a university's parking services or assets. MSU funds its parking services through a range of permit fees.

Feedback on the parking options may emailed to the Parking and Transportation Advisory Committee, or PTAC, at ptac@montana.edu.

Montana State University
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