By Bob Browand
Here's a rundown of recent changes to some of the parking lots here at the University of Houston, as well as what is on the horizon for some others.
PARKING LOT CLOSURES
Over the winter break, lot 16G was closed permanently and returned to Campus Recreation, who in 2012 graciously allowed Parking and Transportation Services to use it as a temporary gravel lot as we built the Stadium Garage. Originally, it was only meant to be used for a few years. But as we built the Welcome Center Student Garage and then the Elgin Street Garage (Garage 5), those few years ended up lasting nearly a decade. But the time eventually came for us to return it, and so that is what we did.
Lot 16G had been one of three student parking lots that comprised Zone A. The other two remaining lots are 16D (the main lot) and 16E, a smaller lot across Cullen Boulevard near the McDonald’s.
To compensate for the loss of spaces in Zone A, we offered a certain number of students with a Zone A permit the opportunity to switch to a different zone. As a result, there has been available parking spaces at all times this semester.
At the end of the spring semester, lot 19B will be closing permanently. This student lot is currently one of three lots that comprise Zone C. It is located between the Law Center and University Lofts. Once it closes, construction will begin on the Law Center’s new building, which will be located where the lot is now.
PARKING LOT CHANGES
Faculty-staff ungated lots 1A and 6A will be converted over the summer to faculty-staff gated lots. Both of these lots are on the south side of campus. Both tend to fill up quickly.
Lot 1A is adjacent to the Welcome Center Student Garage. It was built a few years after the garage opened in 2013, and already has the needed infrastructure in place to easily transition to a gated lot. Lot 6A is between Cougar Village I and the Quadrangle.
We listened to the concerns of faculty and staff regarding how quickly spaces in those lots filled. By converting them to gated parking, it will provide faculty and staff the opportunity to choose a parking option that provides them easier access to available parking when they arrive to work in the mornings. It also will allow them to leave during the day for off-campus errands and appointments and be able to return and find a parking space. That is something that these lots currently cannot do.
As ungated faculty-staff lots, anyone with a valid UH parking permit can use these two lots after 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday, as well as all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. By converting to gated lots, they will only be accessible to faculty-staff with a permit to park in them.
Lot 15G is a gated visitor lot that also includes some reserved faculty-staff spaces. It is located in front of the Athletic Alumni Center. Visitors take a ticket upon entering, then pay the amount owed when leaving by using a credit card or debit card. After the payment is completed, the gate arm raises, allowing the customer to leave.
We are in the process of removing the gates and installing a meter. When that is finished, which we expect to happen toward the end of March, visitors will pay at the meter after they park.
Several factors were considered when deciding to make the change. Since that lot is often used for events taking place at the Fertitta Center, the Alumni Center and TDECU Stadium, removing the gates makes it easier to use that lot for special event parking. Also, it prevents some motorists from leaving without paying by tailgating other vehicles ahead of them through the exit. After the change, payment will be due upfront.
Lot 4 at the University of Houston at Sugar Land is situated in front of the Fort Bend County Libraries' University Branch Library. In order to provide available parking spaces for visitors to the library, UH at Sugar Land and WCJC, we are converting that lot to a paid visitor lot.
Work is already under way for that conversion. The only thing left is for us to install the gates to the exit and entrance. Those gates – which currently are being used at Lot 15G in front of the Athletic Alumni Center – are expected to be installed sometime in summer.
Until those gates are installed, a parking attendant will be stationed at the entrance at certain days and times during the week to accept the $5 fee. Cash, credit cards and debit cards are accepted.
Within the next few weeks, a small portion of faculty-staff ungated lot 15C will be fenced off so that it can be used to hold construction equipment/materials for a renovation project at the Garrison/Melcher Gymnasium. When this happens, access to the lot will be reduced to the entrance nearest to the Fertitta Center. It is expected to remain this way until January 2021.