Parking garage changes: Helpful or hurtful?
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 00:01
After the University of Southern Mississippi finished construction on the campus parking garage in spring of 2011, the five-story open zone parking area was seen as a lifesaver to many students who were able to park closer to their classes.
As more students started using the parking garage, USM Police Chief Bob Hopkins said several complaints came flooding in on a weekly basis regarding near-accidents, speeders and delays exiting the structure. University Police Department decided to partner with Student Government Association and develop solutions to some of those common complaints.
“In our review and looking for solutions, it was apparent that the current two-way traffic in the garage was the main reason for increased number of complaints and accidents being reported,” Hopkins said. “Through our work with SGA and the university’s administration, we were able to turn these resolutions into a reality.”
Changes in the parking garage include newly placed signs indicating the direction each vehicle needs to go.
Some students, however, do not feel like the changes have been effective. Sara Anderson, a psychology major, liked the parking garage more when vehicles could enter and exit as they chose.
“Now that it is just one way, I notice people getting caught going in a circle,” Anderson said. “They miss the down or up ramp and end up reversing, which causes either more traffic or more danger.”
Anderson believes that the intentions of UPD and SGA were to prevent collisions.
“I think it made it worse because people are more likely to speed around the garage because they don’t have to pay as close attention to traffic coming towards them,” Anderson said.
Anderson also believes some enter and exit the wrong way regardless of the signs.
“Some people don’t feel like driving around in the circle, which is dangerous,” Anderson said.
Natalie Oalmann, a Spanish major, has different views.
“I have been wanting the signs since last semester,” Oalmann said. “There have been too many times where I have almost been hit because of people driving in the middle or turning from what I thought was the wrong way.”
Oalmann said the signs are a much needed improvement.
“I feel safer and less likely to be hit,” Oalmann said. “I also like the stop signs before every turn and the speed limit reminders because it definitely controls the speed in the garage.”
Hopkins said the signs aim to correct these problems, but they cannot be fixed if drivers do not obey the rules of the road.
“Pay attention to signage and road markings,” Hopkins said. “Follow the posted five miles per hour speed limit and watch for other vehicles pulling out or parking.”
Also, be cautious when entering or leaving a parking space.
“I am pleased with the changes that have been made,” Hopkins said. “Although the new direction has been in effect for a couple of weeks, we have gotten numerous calls and emails being appreciative of the changes that we made.”
No accidents have been reported since the signs’ installments.