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February 16, 1995

Draft of plan to handle Oakland parking problems is presented

Drafts of a parking strategy and a park- ing philosophy designed to counter parking problems associated with University master plan construction projects were presented to Senate Council's plant utilization and planning committee (PUP) at its Feb. 6 meeting.

Department of Parking and Transportation Director Bob Harkins presented the drafts to PUP to obtain its input before seeking the endorsement of senior administration and, eventually, the city planning department.

"I think it sets down some of the groundwork in terms of where we are going, what we are going to replace parking with and how we are going to do it," Harkins said. The strategy draft presented by Harkins focuses mainly on parking problems involving the convocation center. The favored site for the center is the OC parking lot near Pitt Stadium, which would mean the elimination of 1,250-1,500 parking spaces during construction. Spaces on the OC lot will be permanently eliminated by the convocation center; others on surrounding streets will be temporarily eliminated during construction. The goal of the parking strategy is to find replacement spaces for the ones lost, both permanently and temporarily, due to construction of the convocation center. According to the draft, the parking strategy being developed will have three phases. No timetable has been set for any of the phases or projects. Phase I The University will continue, where possible and feasible, to expand its current transportation management programs. It also will work with the city to develop a zoning ordinance revision that addresses the overall parking needs of Pitt and the Oakland community.

"The first phase of the strategy is to continue to do programs we are doing now," Harkins said. Those include such things as encouraging employee use of public transportation, car and van pools, bicycles and the University's shuttle bus system.

Based on correspondence with the city, Harkins said the mood of the planning department is for the University to do more when it comes to parking and traffic in Oakland.

"What I did was go back to the city and try to explain in detail what we are doing," Harkins said, "and what I kind of got from the city was, 'All we want from you is a commitment that you are going to continue to do what you are doing.' To me that is Phase I." Phase II * Option I, central Oakland: Prior to beginning construction on the convocation center on the OC parking lot near Pitt Stadium, erect a 1,000-space parking facility under Schenley Plaza, on land owned by the city. If approved, the facility would include 75 percent short-term spaces and 25 percent long-term spaces.

In addition, the University will attempt to limit the type of parking available at the new building sites described in the master space plan. All facilities will focus on short-term parking.

* Option II, hilltop: Prior to starting construction on the convocation center on the OC parking lot, erect an 800-space garage adjacent to the Towerview lot behind the OC lot. The garage would be jointly used by the University and the Veterans Administration Hospital.

Additionally, the University will attempt to limit parking at the new building sites described in the master space plan. All facilities will focus on short-term parking.

"Phase II could be a combination of some of the above or all of the above or none of the above," Harkins told PUP.

According to Harkins, either option will make up for any losses in parking spaces because of construction of the convocation center on the OC lot if the garages are built prior to the start of construction.

PUP chairperson Jim DeAngelis favored Option II because of its proximity to the OC lot, where so many spaces will be lost. "It makes more sense," he said. Phase III Balance parking spaces within the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the University. UPMC staff cuts and the migration of remaining staff to parking lots outside of central Oakland have freed spaces formerly used by the medical center staff. Some of those spaces would be opened for use by other members of the University community in Phase III.

According to the parking philosophy draft presented by Harkins, Pitt is committed to:

* Managing vehicular transportation on campus and supporting alternative modes of transportation. Pitt will sponsor and encourage programs that emphasize the use of public transportation, the University shuttle system, van and car pools, bicycles and walking. All of the programs are designed to reduce the use of single-occupancy vehicles in Oakland.

* Working with government agencies to mitigate the impact of through traffic in Oakland.

* Improving access to Oakland from the entire Pittsburgh metropolitan region.

* Providing the University community with appropriate parking that is fairly distributed, reasonably priced and that contributes to Pitt's other transportation goals.

* Improving the design of the campus to make it more pedestrian-friendly by limiting vehicular access to the central campus.

–Mike Sajna

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