New parking strategies are not a priority due to insufficient funds and gravel parking lots.
“UCA has added several gravel parking lots in the last year to year and a half,” Fredricka Sharkey, director of media relations, said, “Some of those include the lot across from the President’s Home and lots on Western and South boulevards. The possibility of parking garages is a frequent question among students, but this continues to be a cost-prohibitive option for UCA.”
Sharkey went on to say the lack of focus on vertical parking garages does not mean it is not in the plans for “the next 10, 20 or 50 years”.
UCA Police Department took to social media to encourage students to take shuttles from UCA’s off-campus parking lots.
“We have started to post about parking around campus to show where parking is available during some of the peak times of the day, especially during the morning hours,” Sergeant Michael Hopper, UCA PD’s training and public information leader, said, “Students need to remember that UCA provides a shuttle service to some of the outlying parking lots...There is also an app related to the shuttle service...As the semester continues, parking on campus will improve. The best advice I can give is to be open to parking near a shuttle stop and do not expect to be able to park right next to your building. Arrive early, especially during the morning hours to allow time to find parking.”
The number of parking passes has decreased by 24% since 2019. There were 9,351 parking permits purchased in that time, but that number has dropped to 7,075 for the Fall of 2021.
During the Spring of 2021, construction began on Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts. This area used to be a large parking lot for students and the effects of its removal on the main campus parking situation cannot be calculated due to the decrease in permits this year.
The engineering department frequently has put its focus on the issue of main campus parking.
Stephen Addison, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and his team suggest that cost is the main factor, and it is due to Arkansas’ water levels.
“Typically parking garages have above-ground and below-ground parking, Addison said, “We cannot build any below-ground parking because our water table is just below the surface of the ground, cars parked below ground would be submerged if we go any amount of rain. This also means that some above-ground structures have to be supported by underground piers.”
Addison consulted with a construction company online to investigate the cost of parking garages.
“Even without [the issue of water levels] the construction and operation cost is prohibitive,” Addison explained, “A 150,000 square foot parking garage would reasonably hold between 375 and 500 cars. At today’s construction cost in Arkansas that would cost about $10 million to build… So, while there may be issues with the land, the larger issue is with the cost - that’s why you haven’t seen many multiple-story parking lots go up anywhere in a long time.”