A paved paradise

By Christopher Gillett

The former site of the M60 parking garage reopened last week as a parking lot. The new M60 parking lot holds 171 parking spots, 31 of which are handicap-accessible and six of those spots are van-accessible.

Built in 1972, the original parking garage was demolished mid-2022 after it had worn down. Even before its demolition, many levels in the garage were closed down. Over the spring and summer, construction crews remade it into a parking lot.

Located by Debartolo and Cushwa halls, the lot is for faculty and students who have a parking pass and is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Danny O’Connell, director of Support Services, said the lot was planned based on university enrollment and park statistics.

“Based on enrollment right now and parking use right now, we tried to figure out what we needed [for] campus core [parking]. And by going [with] two bays of parking it gives us 171 parking spaces,” O’Connell said.

The beginnings of semesters usually have the least parking space available because students are learning the campus layout, buying books, meeting with advisors and seeing long-time friends. The fullest times for parking trend around 10 a.m. and noon, peaking at 11 a.m.

O’Connell said students should plan out their parking and not wait until last minute.

“Get here early, especially the first week. Find out where you want to park. If you’re running late, don’t try and park close,” O’Connell said.

The new lot was elevated to give students better sidewalk access to where the parking lot is higher than the former garage’s lower levels. The university hired GPD Group to engineer it and Marucci & Gaffney Excavating Company to do construction. 

The whole project cost $827,000. According to O’Connell, because it was on the former parking garage and fencing was not needed for the site, the project cost under $5,000 per parking space — less than the average of over $7,000.

The project had an “aggressive” completion date so they could order hard-to-get supplies sooner. O’Connell said one of the hardest supplies to obtain were light poles.

“[Getting] the light poles are always challenging. In the old days you never had to worry about that,” O’Connell said. “They don’t have the same production levels as they used to — and for whatever the reason that’s been a very common problem around the country.”

Much of the former parking garage was also made into a field just below the parking lot. O’Connell said the field allows for cheaper future developments and proper drainage while providing green space.

“In keeping this green space it makes it a much nicer space, but it also gives us space for future development without having to tear up what we just put in,” O’Connell said. “As this grass gets thicker it’ll really make that field handle any rain it takes.”

For all parking lots, see a map of the university on its website. Parking passes can be ordered through Penguin Portal.