University of Maryland DOTS announced Monday that student parking near Cole Field House will be reduced by more than 250 spaces next semester.
The announcement was made at the first public forum in a series called Department of Transportation Services Dialogues, which aims to inform students, faculty and staff of upcoming changes to campus transportation, DOTS spokeswoman Cara Fleck said.
"We know, especially with students, that there's always lots of questions about how DOTS operates," Fleck said. "We want to answer those questions, and maybe help people understand [DOTS] a little bit more."
DOTS Dialogues was introduced in response to the university community's concerns about the loss of parking spaces because of campus construction, according to a DOTS news release.
DOTS Executive Director David Allen said Monday that the expansion of Cole Field House and construction of the Purple Line, a light rail system, will affect parking for students, employees and visitors at this university. The construction will shift Lot Z, an employee parking lot next to Cole Field House. While Lot Z will retain roughly the same number of parking spaces, the Lot Z shift and Purple Line construction will significantly reduce student parking in Lot 1, Allen said.
Lot 1, which holds 2,073 parking spaces, will lose 279 spaces in fall 2018 and 95 spaces in spring 2019, Allen said. To accommodate for this, student parking in Lot 1 will be replaced with 307 parking spaces in Stadium Drive Garage and Terrapin Trail Garage, Allen said. Those spaces were originally allocated to campus visitors.
Allen also said the shift in parking spaces will result in less available spaces for visitors, who might have to walk further.
"Folks who are employees and students, who are here every day, we will give them higher priority over visitors," Allen said.
Allen said both students and employees will be able to use the campus section of the Purple Line — running from University College to the Discovery District, the 150-acre area surrounding The Hotel — for free. Allen said he hopes this university can negotiate a deal in the future to allow students and employees to use the entire Purple Line for free instead, further alleviating the parking space issue.
DOTS is also considering reducing the widths of parking spaces in the garages by six inches in order to add an estimate of as many as 80 more parking spaces, Allen said.
"It would be $2 million to build 80 spaces in a garage, this would be $10,000 or less," Allen said. "Just by some paint, we can achieve that same number of space for much less money."
Alexa Bleach, a staff member in the arts and humanities college, attended the DOTS Dialogue Monday. While Bleach appreciated the discussion, she believes there are other ways to compensate for the loss of parking spaces that DOTS should consider.
"It was helpful to hear more about the parking, and the priority of who gets to park and where they'll park, but I'm still not satisfied," Bleach said. "We should have more garages rather than taking away the spots."
Kristina Zakova, a freshman public health science major, said she commutes to campus every day and parking can be extremely limited during peak hours. Zakova believes the public forums are a good way to inform students of changes and possible solutions.
"Considering it's already difficult to get a space, especially during the day, I think that it's really important that people discuss alternate parking options that students could have," Zakova said.
The second DOTS forum is scheduled for March 29 at Stamp Student Union, and will likely address the student-related parking changes and solutions, Fleck said.