A Walk in the Park: Proposed changes to Northside Parking Garage will help to alleviate traffic problems

From The Battalion

By Tommi Ivey

Published: Friday, February 10, 2006

The Northside Parking Garage is for the most a part a convenient and functional parking facility, but at certain times of the day the normally orderly garage descends into a chaotic traffic jam forcing many garage permit holders (faculty and students) to wait 15 or 20 minutes to get out of the garage. Fortunately, changes are on the horizon. Transportation Services (TS) is proposing changes for the garage that would alleviate some of the congestion and allow for easier garage exit for permit holders. While these changes are only in the proposal stage, a change in the garage format is definitely necessary and TS would be wise to implement the new plan as soon as possible.

The current problem in the Northside Parking Garage is that when visitors enter, they take a ticket from a booth at the entrance and then pay on their way out, but paying while exiting creates long lines of visitors on the first floor. As a result, permit holders who park on the second through sixth floors are forced to inch through these long lines. To reduce the gridlock for both visitors and permit holders, TS has asked for student and faculty permit holder input on the proposed changes. In an email to Northside garage customers, Texas A&M Transportation Services Director Rod Weis outlined the proposal. "Currently, visitors must pull a ticket when entering the garage and then pay a cashier upon exit. We are proposing that the entrance and exit gates be removed on the visitor level. A visitor will park and pay for their parking upon arrival at one of the pay stations conveniently located throughout the visitor level. This proposed change would provide quicker access to and from the garage for both visitors and permit holders," Weis.

Removing the gates to the visitor level would be an immensely helpful strategy in relieving the traffic jams that plague the garage during the day. As it is, permit holders coming down from the upper floors often have to wait just to get down onto the first floor visitor level, especially around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. when faculty members are beginning to leave. They then have to merge into the already sizeable flow of visitors entering and leaving the garage, backing up both the visitors and the permit holders trying to get down.

"It'll help people trying to leave at five o'clock, but that's about it. It's such a minor change, I don't think it'll make much difference," said Daniel Rachal, a senior civil engineering major and Northside garage patron.

But removing the first floor gates and having visitors pay upon arrival at a booth would mean that visitors could enter and exit promptly without having to stop and pay, thus allowing for rapid flow of traffic on the visitor level and the more efficient entering and exiting of permit holders.

"I think it'll be good in the long term" said Stephen Teng, a junior biology major and Northside Parking Garage patron

The proposed changes to the Northside Parking Garage are a great way to make an already troublesome parking issue at A&M a little more bearable. TS should work to make these improvements as soon as possible.