Parking closures provide stress during renovations

Photograph by Greta Burton

The Templeton Campus Center remodel has led to the closure of both the lower Templeton parking lot and the parking circle in front of Stewart Hall. This closure further limits the parking options for students, staff and visitors, increasing congestion despite previous complaints of a parking shortage. 

Parking & Transportation Service Manager Gabriel Montez oversees all parking and Pioneer Express-related matters. Montez stated that the closure reduced approximately 62 parking spaces on campus, 50 of which were reserved for staff. 

In an effort to reduce the number of commuters to campus, several departments have transitioned to partial or fully remote work while Templeton is undergoing construction. 

According to Montez, the construction’s overall impact on parking and traffic at LC has been minimal so far. 

The most significant impact has been the efforts to route it away from the construction zone. 

“The TriMet stop has moved to Huddleston and the Pio Express is not able to safely exit from Service Drive, forcing us to move it to Griswold Stadium,” Montez said via email. 

Montez notes there have been two central obstacles for the transportation department because of the closures. Firstly, many have been forced to adjust their usual routes due to the closure of Temple drive to regular traffic. The street is currently reserved solely for construction vehicles. 

“Large equipment and deliveries are frequent, and maintaining a construction roadway is important for safety and completing a project on time,” Montez said. 

Secondly, Montez said that changing the “false narrative around parking availability” has been a “major obstacle” for the Parking and Transportation Office this semester.  

“We have seen an increase in fire lane, reserve space, and no parking zone violations since (the) start of spring semester,” Montez said. “During peak hours, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., the popular areas fill up first which leads many on the undergrad campus to believe that we are short of available spaces. This is not true. According to our occupancy data, the grad campus, Huston field, and St. Mark’s all have spaces on a consistent basis.” 

St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, a suggested alternate parking option, is located at 9750 Southwest Terwilliger Blvd, near the intersection of Terwilliger Blvd and Boones Ferry Rd.

In order to minimize the time wasted and temptation to park illegally, Montez suggests driving directly to one of the suggested areas, rather than circling the undergraduate parking lots.

 “Our campus is vast and beautiful, your walk may introduce you to new areas on campus that you weren’t aware of previously,” Montez said.

According to the Lewis & Clark website, the LC community is permitted to use the paved upper tier of the St. Mark’s lot, Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The parking department does not require permits in this lot, but requests that all vehicles be registered online through the parking portal for identification purposes. 

Despite plans to upgrade the overflow parking area on the graduate campus, Montez believes the  biggest change on campus will come, not from the closure of parking lots but instead how people react to that change. 

Associate Professor of Sociology Bruce Podobnik frequently parks at St. Mark’s. According to Podobnik, the lot is never crowded. 

“I timed it today, ironically. It is a 14-minute walk from the car to this office right here,” Podobnik said, gesturing to his office on the third floor of J.R. Howard Hall. 

Podobnik believes that members of the LC community should increase their efforts to utilize public transportation, instead of relying solely on cars. 

“I actually am more of a proponent of more mass transit than anything,” Podobnik said. 

Montez and Podobnik also agree that individual action makes a significant difference for the community as a whole. 

“Once behavior changes, parking demand spreads across all three campuses, which will give us a far better understanding of the true parking impacts to our campus,” Montez said.

The construction on the new student center and the reopening of the closed parking lots is predicted to be finished by the start of the Fall 2022 semester.

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