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Expanding seminary site ups parking woes

Jan. 17, 2001

Construction closes lot, leaves students searching for spaces

By JENNIFER SIH

Reporter

For students who drive to class, finding a place to park can add extra stress to life, but the problem is not unique to Baylor and may not be as bad as it seems.

The building of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary building limited parking last semester and is now limiting it even more. The parking lot by Castellaw Communications Center is now closed completely, leaving students struggling to find a parking space.

'With the building of the Truett Seminary, parking has become a huge hassle,' said Chris May, a Pueblo, Colo., junior, and a resident assistant at North Russell Residence Hall. 'Residents are forced to park at Penland [Residence Hall] or other businesses like Best Western and IHOP.'

May said that this was not fair to the students or the businesses and that she has not seen any accommodations made.

In order to fight this problem, she got a bike to ride to class and rarely surrenders her North Russell parking spot.

'The new Speight Avenue Parking Plaza by the Hankamer School of Business has alleviated most of the parking problems seen last year,' said Baylor Police Chief, Jim Doak.

The parking garage accommodates 1,000 vehicles and is always filled to capacity, especially in the mornings.

Even with the new parking garage students still have to find other places to park when it gets full.

After parking in the Speight Avenue Parking Plaza, Jonathan Malone, a Waco junior, said, 'It gets really crowded sometimes, and it's hard to find a spot.'

Doak advises students to use the shuttle that runs from the Ferrell Special Events Center to the cul-de-sac by Hankamer. This shuttle runs every 15 minutes from 7:20 a.m. to 5 p.m.

'This is a service provided by Baylor to reduce frustration and has been running since the beginning of the fall semester,' Doak said. 'This provides quick access to the heart of campus. No decal is required and it is the system that other campuses use.'

Paul McCauley, a supervisor at Waco Transit said, 'Not many students use the Ferrell Center shuttle, and it is not used to its full potential.'

He said that many of his bus drivers comment that they often drive an empty shuttle.

'The shuttles run on time the best they can, but sometimes due to students walking in the streets it is hard for them to be on time. Sometimes a shuttle has to skip one 15 minute stop to get back on schedule, but they try their best to be on time.'

Parking is not only an issue at Baylor, but at other universities such as Texas Tech, Texas A&M and the University of Texas as well. These schools also utilize a campus-wide shuttle system so students do not have to fight for parking spots.

The UT shuttle has 7.2 million boardings annually and is recognized as the largest university transit system in the country.

At these schools, parking stickers are sold at a higher price than at Baylor and are available at different price levels.

At UT, parking stickers range from $80 for a commuter to $360 for a garage sticker.

'There is talk about a new parking garage to be built between the South Russell Residence Hall and Marrs McLean Science Building,' said Don Bagby, manager of facility planning.

It is planned to have four levels and hold 600 vehicles.

'We have a consultant working for Baylor that is evaluating parking and we expect a report at the end of the month,' Bagby said.

This garage is in an early stage of development and will not lighten any parking problems this semester.