Parking crunch

Parking at Brady shrinks during construction
Monday, May 29, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:15 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

If you are trying to use Brady Commons this summer to shop, bank or eat, you might have problems finding parking spaces. Half of the Hitt Street visitors parking lot next to Brady and about half of Kuhlman Court are under construction.

The northern end of the lot is being reconfigured to create more parking for people with disabilities. The parking lot is reserved for visitors during the day, but it is also used by students and staff with disabilities.

“It is going to be rebuilt and reopened in the fall with 45 to 50 handicapped spaces,” said Jim Joy, director of parking and transportation at MU. “We’ll open it just as soon as it’s done. The lower piece will stay the same until about Thanksgiving.”

That’s when another, much bigger project will begin: the expansion of Brady Commons. The southern end of the visitors lot will disappear to make room for a bigger commons.

The new student center will be 238,408 square feet, nearly twice the size of the current building, said Phil Shocklee, campus facilities manager. The expansion will take place in two phases. New construction on the southern end of the Hitt Street lot begins in November and ends July 2008; renovation of the current building continues until 2010.

MU students voted for the expansion. A student fee, not to exceed $35, will go into effect when construction is complete. The expected cost of the expansion is about $58.7 million.

Half of Kuhlman Court, a grassy area with a sidewalk that acts as a shortcut from Brady to the beginning of Speakers Circle, will be closed until 2010.

“The fenced area will be part of the construction area,” Shocklee said. “It will be fenced off for the duration of the project, which is four years.”

Students navigating around Brady recently were already feeling the headaches of change.

“I voted against (the expansion) because all the construction gets in the way,” senior Katrina Ellebracht said. “I thought Brady was sufficient how it was. We are already short of parking. If half the parking lot is still blocked off, it’s going to be much worse.”

“I think a lot of people were convinced because of a T-shirt,” Ellebracht said, referring to the “I Love Brady” T-shirts that were a tactic to get student support for the expansion of Brady. The shirts were used to persuade students to vote for a student fee referendum in April that would keep the expansion project in motion. “They didn’t show the other side (of the issue),” she said.

Joy said parking shouldn’t be a problem.There are several parking-meter areas within a block of Brady, he said, and people going there will have to find those spaces.

“It should not make a difference,” Joy said. “Students could not park there legally during the day anyway. The people coming there now need to know there are parking meters nearby.”

Others are bothered for different reasons.

“I think it takes away from some of the greenery on campus,” junior Tom Kimutis said. “Right now, the construction is pretty bad.”

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