Due to the increase in enrollment at The University of Texas-Pan American this semester, administrators and staff are working feverishly to develop more student parking spaces, as well as long-term parking solutions.
Recently, a 48-space parking lot was added on Van Week Street across from the Education Complex. Two additional parking lots in the same area will be completed by late September.
"That will bring a total of about 248 student spaces within the next month," UTPA's Parking Services Manager Eddie Morin said.
In order to provide immediate additional parking spaces, the University opened a grass lot north of the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.
The University's Campus Facilities Planning Council (CFPC) - a committee whose responsibilities include monitoring traffic and parking - met Aug. 27 and discussed current and future parking plans.
"We talked about parking and specifically mentioned looking at a shuttle system for the University," Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Dr. John Edwards said.
A subcommittee is presently assessing possible routes and what type of shuttle or conveyance would best suit UT Pan American students.
"We want to make sure that we will be meeting the needs of students," Edwards said. "We've got to be sure that we know what the habits of the students are, so we know how to help them best."
Edwards said the University is considering asking a company to evaluate the traffic flow around campus, the parking needs and what kind of transportation UTPA might need for its students.
"We need to provide every opportunity we can to let the students be successful at their classes," Edwards said. "I think one of the ways for students to be successful at their classes is to be in their seats on time."
On Sept. 7 the Texas Department of Transportation will begin an 11-month project to improve SH 107 (University Drive) from Jackson Road to 10th Street in Edinburg. The 1.6-mile stretch of highway will be redesigned to a six-lane roadway with a concrete median, Morin said.
"With construction, accidents are more likely to occur and it's also slower to drive through," Morin said. His advice to students is clear: "allow ample time to arrive and depart from the campus."
Morin is offering informational presentations that will address parking at UTPA, as well as traffic issues. The presentations are open to any student, faculty or staff group that would like to participate.
"The main focus of the presentations will be to answer questions," Morin said. "People just want to be informed of what's going on and this gives me an opportunity to do it face-to-face."
The presentations will also educate the University community about free services offered, what to expect the first few weeks of the semester and potential parking plans.
"Many people may not know that we offer a free jump-start if a person's car battery dies," Morin said. "We can also unlock your car for free."
For more information about parking services or to schedule a presentation, contact Eddie Morin at 956/381-2738 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org