With the new science building’s location being one of the campus’s major parking lots, Tech has the opportunity to restructure its parking to better fit the university’s master plan, which was last updated by the university and approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents in 2014.
This parking and transportation plan will be executed in multiple phases, and is part of a larger effort to make Tech’s campus more pedestrian-friendly, with increased green spaces in the central campus, and enhance safety for pedestrians and cyclists moving from the outer to inner campus.
The first phase includes three projects, with a total estimated project cost of $14,250,000. The project is currently listed on the Tennessee Board of Regents design list as "initiating." The designer has not been announced yet. With State Building Commission projects, of which this is one, the SBC must give final approval on the designer before it is official.
- West Perimeter Lot
- Ground parking located west of Tech Village that will include 1,057 spaces.
- Environmentally friendly paving
- Shuttle service from the lot to central campus
- Accessible shuttles
- Dedicated shuttle lanes and shuttle stops
- App for identifying when shuttle will arrive at each stop
- No more than seven minutes from West Perimeter Lot to central campus
- North Dixie Avenue Modifications
- Reduce number of traffic lanes from four to two, with a center median, left-turn and buffered bike lanes
- William L. Jones Drive Modifications (Derryberry Hall)
- Install roundabout with drop-off point and eliminate cross drives in front of Derryberry Hall
- Relocate front parking area to street side of Derryberry Hall
- Along with the projects, implementation of the new parking plan will move the campus to a zoned parking map.
The second phase includes a parking garage with an estimated cost of $11,856,000.
- Project planning and design to begin in July, with construction slated to begin in 2019
- Will create more than 600 parking spaces
What was the process for developing this plan?
The planning process for parking has been going on for more than two years. Outside consultants performed parking and traffic studies, working with the Campus Parking Committee. The committee included two students appointed by the Student Government Association, two faculty members appointed by the Faculty Senate, the dean of students, the senior associate provost, the chief of University Police, the associate vice president for facilities and the vice president for Planning & Finance. They were responsible for recommending the optimal parking plan that addresses the most immediate campus needs.
Upon approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents and initial presentation to the campus, the university formed a Parking Implementation Committee of 29 faculty, staff (both administrative and clerical & support) and students. The committee was charged with determining how the new parking plan would be implemented, and addressing questions and concerns about the plan brought by the campus community.
Why did the university ask Huron Consulting and Portfolio First to evaluate costs for four set projects instead of looking at other parking options around the campus?
The university master plan, last updated and approved in 2014, calls for parking to support an enrollment of 15,000 students, and calls for parking to be moved to the outer campus, increasing the amount of green space in the inner campus and enhancing pedestrian safety. The consultants identified select areas on campus where parking could be built in accordance with the master plan. The parking evaluation focused on areas already identified in the master plan.
Why isn’t the university building multiple, smaller lots instead of a large, single lot?
The most cost- and time-efficient manner to build enough parking to meet current and future campus needs is to do a large, single lot. If the university did multiple, smaller lots, there would be increased infrastructure spending for the installation of things such as electricity, storm water drainage systems, and communication lines for emergency phones. By doing a single lot, costs for these things are reduced.
Why does the university want to change the traffic pattern of Dixie Avenue and the parking around Derryberry Hall?
For both things, safety is the primary reason. The university’s master plan calls for the inner campus to be made more pedestrian-friendly and to limit the amount of vehicular traffic in order to enhance safety. Once Prescott Middle School was closed by the Putnam County School System, the amount of vehicular traffic on Dixie Avenue dropped. This allowed the university to look for ways to enhance student safety as they cross Dixie Avenue from the residence halls to the inner campus. This plan was reflected in the master plan. By adding a median, turning and bicycle lanes, and reducing the number of through lanes to two, pedestrians will be able to cross the road in a safer manner. The realignment of parking in front of Derryberry Hall and the transformation of William L. Jones Drive from a through street to a roundabout is being done to also make a more pedestrian-friendly campus.The current configuration around Derryberry has multiple points of conflict between pedestrians and vehicular traffic.
Why is the new science building being placed on an existing parking lot?
The university master plan identified that area as the location of a new cluster of academic buildings, of which the science building is the anchor. In developing a master plan for the university, locations for future buildings were placed in areas of campus that could support the buildings and their infrastructure. These locations also had to be in keeping with any future growth of the university.
Was there a bid process for the new parking lot behind Henderson Hall and T.J. Farr Building?
University Facilities handled the construction of the restructured parking lot. Portions of the project, such as paving, were put out to bid, following university purchasing procedures.
What is the cost of implementing zoned parking?
There are no costs specific to the implementation of zoned parking. The additional costs under the parking plan would have happened even if the university would have stayed with the previous class-system parking (faculty/admin, staff and students). The university went to the zoned parking concept to allow employees and students the option of selecting parking according to their budget.
Will university employees receive an itemized accounting of the parking projects?
As a state institution, university expenditures are part of the state’s budgeting and building process, which is an annual occurrence that is made very public, by both the university Business Office, which places budgeting documents online at its website, and by the state through the state comptroller office.
What are the annual increases for parking prices each year, and for how long will the increases occur?
When the Tennessee Board of Regents approved the parking fee increases, the annual increases will be through 2023. The increases are different for the different zones. For gold, red and green zones, the average annual increase is $15; for purple, $9.
What account do parking fees go to? Are there any restrictions on this account?
Parking and citation fees go into the university’s parking revenue account. The funds in the account are restricted to being used for expenditures incurred for operating the university's parking, such as servicing any bonds issued (servicing simply means paying the principal and interest on the bond), maintenance of the parking lots, enforcement and operation of the campus shuttles.
Will there be an annual accounting for the use of the funds in the parking revenue account?
That account, like all university accounts, is accounted for in the university’s budget -- which is posted on the university Business Office website -- and audited each year by the state comptroller office, which makes state-audited financial statements available on its website.
If parking is to be self-financed by the university, how is it able to issue a bond?
The university cannot use any state-appropriated funds or tuition for parking, in much the same way it cannot use these funding sources for things like residence halls. Any projects must be self-financed through revenue brought in by parking fees and citations. This doesn’t mean that the university has bonding authority. In Tennessee, state law calls for the Tennessee Secondary School Bond Authority to issue bonds on behalf of higher education institutions. Please note that the fact that the TSSBA is issuing the bond does not mean they will pay the principal and interest due on the bond; the university must pay the bond off. The rate and term of the bond will be set by the bond market when the bond is issued. The underwriting cost of the bond will be determined by the TSSBA.
Will there be a separate bond for the parking garage?
Yes. The parking garage is a separate project, which will be funded by revenue specific to the garage. When the Tennessee Board of Regents approved the parking fees for the current parking projects, they did not deal with the parking garage issue for two reasons: (1) they don’t deal with fees until something is an actual project; and (2) they didn’t want to obligate Tech’s new governing board to a project that wouldn’t start until well after the new board was established.
Why did the parking fee increase so much?
Each parking space on campus costs between $3,000 and $5,000 to build; for a parking garage, the per-space price is four times that. These figures are arrived at by taking the cost of a parking lot or structure, and dividing it by the number of spaces there. It involves much more than the cost to simply pave each space; it includes things such as design, site preparation, and construction. Tech does not receive any state money for parking operations. It is an auxiliary area of Tech that must generate enough money to support itself. This amount covers just the construction of the lots, but that isn't all that is required to safely operate a lot once it is constructed. Along with paying off any bonds necessary to construct the new projects, parking fees and fines must generate enough funds to cover the following costs:
- Maintenance and replacement costs for parking facilities
- Operation of shuttle service
The goal of the parking program is to provide adequate parking for employees, students and guests at the lowest possible cost. The previous fees – $50 annually for faculty and administrative staff, $20 for clerical and support staff, and $20 for students (which was included in the General Access Fee) – did not support the parking facilities the university needs for future growth.