Parking structure goes slow for SEMO

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Nearly 15 months after breaking ground for a new parking structure, construction has yet to start on the facility itself and Southeast Missouri State University officials can't point to a certain completion date.

That's because the project is being designed and constructed in stages as federal funding is made available, school officials said Tuesday. Federal funding is paying 80 percent of the cost. The university is paying for the rest from its parking fees fund.

Construction on the first section of parking is expected to begin in April or May -- once a contractor is hired -- and be completed by November, facilities management project manager Tom Hadler said.

The first section will involve two levels of parking, which will be built at the bottom of a hill. The construction will provide 480 parking spaces.

The first phase will consist of the ground and first levels of the structure. Bids on this first phase of the project have not yet been opened.

In an omnibus spending bill passed last week, Congress appropriated $978,000 -- part of the $12.5 million needed -- to proceed with future construction on the project. The federal funding the university already has received paid for the design of the project and for the initial steps in the construction plan.

Since the university broke ground on the $12.5 million park-and-ride project on Oct. 30, 2002, an access road has been constructed on the site west of the Student Recreation Center.

School officials initially talked of completing the project over five years. But Al Stoverink, director of facilities management at Southeast, said Tuesday it could take longer, depending on the amount of federal funding available for the project each year.

The park-and-ride structure will provide a place for students and visitors to park their vehicles and then ride campus shuttle vans to reach their destinations.

School officials said the goal is to reduce vehicle traffic in the core of the campus.

Plans are to build future levels in stair-step fashion up the hill, Hadler said.

Because of the slope, the parking structure itself will be no more than two levels above the ground at any one spot, school officials said.

The parking structure will be built on the site of an existing parking lot known as "Pig Lot," a reference to the fact that the area was once part of the university farm.

When completed, the entire project will provide the university with 600 unsheltered parking spaces and 1,200 more in the parking structure.

Stoverink said the phased approach to the project will work well because it allows construction to be done largely between April and November annually. The scheduling avoids the basketball and major entertainment season at the nearby Show Me Center, which puts greater demands on campus parking lots.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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