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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Summer session faces parking lot construction

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Western’s C lots being repaved. // Photo by Connor Jalbert

Western’s C lots are currently undergoing construction this summer to eliminate dust and make campus more eco-friendly. The project is led by Granite Construction and is expected to continue until the end of July.

Due to summer classes, only half of the C lot is under construction for sake of accessibility.

“It’s a process because they’ll pull all that gravel out and then they have to grate it, level it out, compact it and then put the asphalt down,” said Tiffany Kayser, Office Manager for Kamp Painting, a subcontractor working on the project.

When it comes to on-campus parking, many students use the dust ridden, pothole covered C lots. 

“I think the C lots are terrible,” said Western student Shahaela Doyle. “There’s so many potholes…They’re terrible for your car.”

Students and faculty who normally park in the C lots are being rerouted to the two parking lots off of Bill McDonald, Kayser said.

The purpose of the construction of these lots is to change the gravel to asphalt, but throughout the renovations, there’s a chance many individual parking spots could be lost.

“They are working on the layout of the parking lots still, so the loss of 40 stalls isn’t necessarily for sure,” Kayser said.

On south campus, the C lot north of Robert S. Harrington Field will be paved, as well as 12A, the lot across the street and northwest of the field. Those lots will be inaccessible from mid-August to September 9, said April Markiewicz, a member of Western’s Parking and Transportation Advisory Committee.

“We worked on a [parking] project last year and it took us the whole summer,” Kayser said about last summer’s repaving. “But there was a lot more parking lots involved.”

“I think the C lots are terrible. There’s so many potholes…They’re terrible for your car.”

Shahaela Doyle

In addition to dust and potholes problems, Western has been issued warnings from the City of Bellingham due to violations of contaminated stormwater runoff. The Washington Department of Ecology has said Western is in violation of the Clean Water Act because of the stormwater runoff from gravel parking lots, Markiewicz said.

“We’re doing the best we can, but we’ve got runoff issues,” Markiewicz said.

On the south end of campus, Western has a water treatment facility and stormwater vaults underneath the tennis courts that have canisters collecting contaminants, Markiewicz said.

All the particles from the C lots water runoff are collecting in the treatment vaults, posing another problem to be fixed this summer, Kayser said.

Stormwater grates in the lot have been replaced with drain tubs and sump pumps to transport the clean water to vegetation and drain the dirty water into the storm drains, Kayser said.

Starting with 7G and 3R lots, off Billy Frank Jr. Street, this summer’s projects will be to repave the lots in phases.

“We’re doing the best we can, but we’ve got runoff issues.”

April Markiewicz

Lot 19G, the student and faculty lot adjacent to the Communication Facility lawn, has just been completed as of Monday, June 20 and is now available for parking.

“Right now we’re starting to work on part of [parking lot] 3R,” Kayser said. “That one’s going to be in phases; it’s a much bigger parking lot, different layout. We’ll do that in a couple different sections, so part of that is going to stay open.”

“The gravel parking lots are being paved, and that’s easier on your cars,” Kayser said.

The lots will be striped after they’re paved. Paving the lot will be beneficial to the environment because cars leave covered in dirt and grit from the gravel, which can often damage cars.

Pressure washing and cleaning of 3R began Tuesday, June 21 and is set to be seal coated on June 23 and 24, Kayser said.

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