In Search Of Parking

October 1, 1998

Carol Schlueter

How about a new parking deck that would replace the Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Services buildings? Or one that would replace Zemurray Hall? Or a new roadway with parking spaces along it that would cross campus from Freret to Willow?

Tony Lorino is juggling those and four additional alternatives that would help solve Tulane's long-term parking needs, thanks to a new and long-awaited study by GCR & Associates Inc. Lorino, senior vice president for operations and chief financial officer, knows all too well that an empty parking space is an extinct animal during peak hours on the uptown campus. He challenged GCR to find a way to create 350 additional spaces while also preserving existing buildings and green spaces as much as possible.

After months of work, the study was presented in mid-September to the Board of Administrators' Physical Plant and Campus Development Committee. It will next be reviewed by the Campus Planning Steering Committee, which includes board members, architecture faculty members, staff members and students. When the options are narrowed, the search for financing will begin, Lorino said, although it will take 18 months or more to build a parking structure. The cost of the most feasible solutions could range from $1.5 million to $4.5 million, and more than one option could be necessary.

"Whichever alternative or alternatives we implement, we will have to be sure they are self-supporting," Lorino said. "It probably means an increase in fees across the board to accomplish these plans."

The two alternatives for the middle campus from Freret to Willow that Lorino feels are most likely to be considered are:

-Constructing a roadway extension of Weinmann Road (which now runs behind the law school) so that it would run from Freret to Willow. Parking would be located along this roadway. Estimated to cost $1.8 million and add 193 spaces, this option would require rezoning and the demolition of several homes that border the campus. Some of these residences already are owned by Tulane, but three would need to be acquired, Lorino said, and that could be difficult.

-Demolishing Zemurray Hall and building a multi-level parking deck with 270 spaces. Estimated to cost $1.6 million, this project would require rezoning. Lorino said the 53 beds in the Zemurray dorm could be replaced or may not be needed because of the new Willow Street residence hall now under construction. Only one viable alternative was recommended for the front campus, from St. Charles to Freret, although the consultants recognized that the greatest parking needs are in that area. "It is the oldest area of the campus and the busiest," the study said.

The front campus alternative would be:

-Demolishing the Mechanical Services Building and the Chemical Engineering Building along Engineering Road and replacing them with a multi-level parking deck that would provide 250 parking spaces. If space for the chemical engineering and mechanical services functions was included in the new parking deck, similar to the use of Diboll Complex space for human resources and public safety, the cost of this project would be about $4.5 million.

Four other alternatives were discussed in the report, but were not recommended as strongly as the three above. These ideas, along with reasons for why they were not listed in the first tier of choices, included building a parking deck along Engineering Road (difficult to build and no net gain of spaces); a deck along Zimple Street near Rogers Chapel (loss of critical green space); and a deck adjacent to Howard-Tilton Library (residential property acquisitions difficult). A deck at the site of the Physical Plant building was the fourth of these alternatives, and was recommended "for possible consideration," but would be difficult because of relocation of physical plant equipment, the study said.

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