Just under $300,000 in parking fines were issued by East Tennessee State University this past year, a decline of roughly $40,000 over the course of three years.
Vernon Bradley, director of ETSU’s parking services, attributed the decline in tickets to good rules enforcement by staff members tasked with patrolling the school’s more than 7,000 parking spaces.
During the 2011-12 school year, ETSU issued $298,930.84 in parking fines; for 2010-11, $313,163.96 in parking fines were issued; and in 2009-10 the school’s parking enforcement employees wrote $341,103.64 in tickets.
In the most recent year the most common citation given was for vehicles having no parking decal.
Extended time violations was the next most common citation written by parking enforcement personnel.
Drivers backing into spaces instead of pulling into them is another common violation. Bradley said this is the rule because many spaces at ETSU are angled, which means if you pull out of them rather than back out of them you’ll be pulling into oncoming traffic. Requiring drivers to pull into spaces also ensures tags are visible.
Lots at ETSU are divided into faculty/staff lots and student lots. Other designations exist too, but often Bradley said students park where they’re not supposed to.
“We’ll find students parked in ‘faculty and staff reserved’ and it’s one of those things where ... they know it’s a faculty/staff parking lot but they’re taking a chance,” Bradley said.
Tickets range in price from $200 for parking in a handicap space down to $10 for improper display of parking decals.
Obviously, parking enforcement/monitoring at ETSU is a major job. And students have complained for years about not being able to find a close spot to park. If there is a parking problem at ETSU, it could be exacerbated by the construction of a $26.1 million 1,224-space parking garage that will eliminate 400 prime parking spaces for the next year as the massive structure is erected.
The 425,000-square-foot, four-level building will include new offices for ETSU’s Public Safety Department and parking services, a student coffee shop and additional commercial spaces. It should be finished in time for the fall 2013 semester.
The garage is going on a lot that contained 200 parking spaces. About 200 more spaces are being denied access during construction, so the school will lose between 300 and 400 premium parking spaces during the construction. However, ETSU has also created a new parking area at the new baseball stadium on University Parkway where students, faculty and staff can park and ride a shuttle to campus. That new parking lot alone will provide approximately 300 spaces.
What is now Buc Village building A through E will eventually be torn down, but that will be delayed for a few months to allow the use of those parking spaces surrounding those buildings. There are about 100 spaces there. Shuttles will run there too as this lot is on the far southeast end of campus.
Bradley said prior to the current situation with the construction of the parking garage, there has never been a time when there was not a parking space available on campus, those spaces just may not have been very close to academic buildings. Even during the first few weeks of the academic year, when campus is most congested, there is between 200 and 300 spaces available out on the far western parking lot. This lot is called 22A.
The total number of parking spaces on campus, not including the 400 spaces currently removed for construction of the garage, is 7,393. That does not include 108 spaces for motorcycles. The number of spaces available will change with construction. To inform motorists on campus of any changes, ETSU has created a website. Access this resource at etsu.edu/detour. Here you will find frequently asked questions about parking and a map that will provide useful information about where to park and how to avoid the construction site.
“Certainly it’s not the best situation,” said ETSU Vice President for Finance and Administration David Collins. “Hopefully everyone will remember it is going to be a very hard year for parking. We are asking for great patience from everybody. We certainly want everyone to come in early to reach their classes.
“As we’ve said many times, we’ve always had a walking problem more than a parking problem. Faculty, staff, students, everybody wants to park right in front of their buildings. With 15,000 (students) on campus, that’s not going to happen.”
The garage is being constructed along West State of Franklin Road, at the corner of John Robert Bell Drive.
This construction area could be dangerous, so Collins said a safe sidewalk is being built to take students from Lot 22A safely around the construction and on to the center of campus, where work is under way to establish a green space free of vehicles. The school closed off this section of campus to traffic in early June. ETSU President Brian Noland has said he wanted to create a traditional green space in the middle of campus and make the area safer for pedestrians.
“In order to make students safer we have created a safe walking path that’s outlined in red (on the map accessible at etsu.edu/detour),” Collins said. “They will no longer be able to come up by Warf-Pickel (Hall) as they traditionally have. That sidewalk has been closed off.”
John Robert Bell will be blocked to traffic for a good portion of its length. Motorists will be able to turn from West State of Franklin to access the garage once it is finished. But John Robert Bell will become a pedestrian walkway that will lead to the school’s iconic amphitheater.
The green space this path will lead to will be located between Brooks Gym and Gilbreath Hall. The current Pedestrian Mall that begins in this area will eventually be turned into a double sidewalk rather than the proper road it is now. Once complete, the green space will allow anyone on campus to navigate from the parking garage to most of the academic buildings and the student center without the danger of being struck by a car.
Pedestrians have been hit on campus this past year, which has been a concern for Noland. In the recent past there were about 10 incidents on campus of people being hit, not seriously injured, but struck by vehicles on campus. Collins said with the construction on campus this year it is more imperative than ever to use sidewalks and not be distracted when walking. Motorists need to be aware too, he said.
Bradley said he expects Buc Shot ridership to increase this year due to the construction. He also predicted requests for carpool parking decals to increase too. The Buc Shot is the free service provided by Johnson City Transit to give rides around campus. Ridership on the Buc Shot shuttles has increased each year, but you still have to get to the campus early to make it to class on time because the shuttles take about 15 minutes to complete a round trip. Incidentally, Bradley said it takes about 15 minutes to traverse the campus from Lot 22A.
The most recent school year the Buc Shot shuttle service gave 250,367 rides. That is a 17.5 percent increase from the previous year.
Carpools on campus have increased over the years. In 2009-10 there were 223 carpool decals. In 2010-11 there were 461 carpool decals. This past year the university gave out 529 parking decals.
“And we anticipate it’s going to go even higher this year because of the construction,” Bradley said.
In the first few weeks of this coming semester there will be parking attendants throughout campus to help motorists locate spaces.
“Hopefully that will prevent them trying to drive around and hunt for a spot,” Bradley said.
Collins said patience is needed by campus motorists during the garage construction.
“That’s kind of the key word for this year, is patience,” he said.
The fall semester officially starts Aug. 25 and classes begin Aug. 27.