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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Western drafts new parking plan

A new plan to improve parking on Western’s campus could raise the cost of student permits.

The plan’s current draft highlights the primary goal of the Parking and Transportation Capital Implementation Advisory Committee (PTCIAC) to pave south campus lots between 2016 and 2017 to address pot holes and potential environmental issues caused by stormwater runoff.

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Western is working with the Washington State Department of Ecology and the city of Bellingham to improve parking lot conditions. Runoff from the lots violate the Clean Water Act, so the work is urgent, said April Markiewicz, Parking and Transportation Advisory Committee (PTAC) chair.

“If we don’t do anything with our lots, the Department of Ecology and the city of Bellingham will both step forward and begin to fine the university until it’s corrected,” Markiewicz said.

A total estimated cost of these projects is listed in the comprehensive plan as $14.4 million. The PTAC also includes a number of potential increases to costs of parking passes and fines in order to subsidize the expense.

The first of two town hall meetings discussing the plan took place Wednesday, April 1.

Markiewicz outlined plans to monitor traffic in the Lincoln Creek Park & Ride in fall 2015 by issuing free parking passes to students and staff who use the lot. During the 2016-2017 school year, passes will be issued for $25 per quarter, or $90 per year in order to fund the eventual pavement of the lot in 2018, according to the plan.

“I don’t think it’s fair to bring [permit costs] up to compensate for the cost,” junior Marina Semez said. “I don’t know what other way there would be, but I think there should be a different way.”

The comprehensive plan also outlines removing a small section of roadway at the intersection of South College Drive and East College Way, and installing a traffic signal at the intersection of Bill McDonald Parkway and South College Drive, to increase pedestrian crossing sections.

Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Richard Van Den Hul proposed the comprehensive parking plan in 2010, said Paul Cocke, Western’s office of communications director, in an email.

“This plan includes many significant benefits for students with modest cost increases,” Cocke said.

Student representatives had been involved in the development of the plan, and had given their support and recommendation for its implementation, Cocke said.

A second meeting will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7, in room 150 in the Science, Math, and Technology Education building. The plan will also be presented to the Associated Students Board of Directors, Cocke said.

From there, the proposal will be reviewed by Western’s Board of Trustees and implemented by Van Den Hul if approved.

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