Students returning to campus in the fall and hoping for a smooth ride to their respective parking lots were instead welcomed back with lot closures and changes to the parking and transportation services. Many of the changes are due to the university’s seemingly endless construction projects.
Other closures, such as that of Ponce de Leon Garage, were made to accommodate new facilities. The garage, formerly part of the discounted green parking zone, will no longer be part of the university’s parking inventory. It will instead be used as parking for The Lennar Foundation Medical Center set to open in December.
To make up for the loss of parking, the university began construction on a new garage.
“As part of the requirement, we have to provide a certain number of parking spaces. For that reason, they’re building us a new garage – Merrick – in replacement of the Ponce Garage,” said Richard Sobaram, director of Parking & Transportation.
Students will have the option of parking in a “brown zone” in the newly constructed Merrick Garage, located next to Pavia Garage, but it will cost them. Discounted parking will be relocated to Mahoney-Pearson Garage.
Students who used to park at the Ponce de Leon Garage also had the Hurry ‘Cane shuttle system to transport them to the center of campus and back to the garage. For students leaving campus late, the shuttle ride provided a trip back to their lot up until midnight.
Mahoney-Pearson Garage does not have shuttle service, but alternative choices such as Safe Ride and safety escorts will be available.
Changes in the Fountain route have also forced users to adapt their routines. On the north end, the route will end at Miller Circle instead of at McLamore Plaza Fountain. At the south end, the route will end at Brescia Avenue instead of Ponce de Leon Garage. Sobaram said changing the last Fountain route stop helped consolidate time and make service more efficient.
“The changes in the Miller [Fountain] route have been beneficial to 95 percent of students in that area because it has greatly reduced their transport time,” Sobaram said.
The department needed to provide the most efficient way to transport students to the Flipse Building in the 15-minute period between classes. One of the options the department discussed was making an additional stop in Lot 42 across from Flipse, on Ponce de Leon Boulevard, but hundreds of students crossing Ponce everyday posed a safety concern.
“Our main obligation is to get the psychology students from the central campus to the Flipse building in time for class,” Sobaram said.
Still, students expressed concerns about the changes to the routes, especially when staying on campus after sundown.
“What happens to those students with late classes? How are they to get to their dorm safely?” junior Mia Lam said.
Enacting these mobility strategies is a top priority for the Department of Parking & Transportation, but also one of the biggest challenges, Sobaram said.
“We are trying to enhance ways to get around campus without relying on single-driver cars. With more drivers, there is more traffic on U.S. Route 1 and surrounding streets, and traffic in Miami is bad enough,” Sobaram said.
For more information, visit miami.edu/parking.