Construction and traffic direction delay students
For those who commute to campus, the feeling of panic and annoyance when driving endlessly around the circle keeping an eye peeled for a single open parking space is all too familiar.
While the student population continues to increase over time, the parking on campus has been relatively static. By noon on weekdays, the spots inside the loop are entirely occupied, and students are forced to park in the more remote lots including the lot at the Technology Research Center on Poplar Road — a fifteen-minute walk to most of the academic buildings.
In an effort to keep the traffic moving throughout the semester, the UMBC police occasionally deploy traffic police throughout campus to monitor the intersections. One UMBC student, Morgan Schuyler, took to the myUMBC discussion boards last Thursday to explain how one of the traffic officers had misled her and made her late to class.
In the post, Schuyler wrote that a traffic officer refused to allow her to turn onto Commons Drive to park in the lots available to commuter students. Despite being able to see several open spaces, the officer would not allow any traffic to turn from any direction onto Commons Drive.
Schuyler was forced to park in the aforementioned Technology Research Lot, but not before she was stopped again by ongoing construction near the Administration Garage that was disrupting heavy student traffic on the Outer Loop.
“The construction activities that take place on UMBC’s roads should be designed around the peak parking and driving times for students,” Schuyler said in an interview. “We all understand that there are inconveniences inherent to construction on campus, but we should not be stopped on the loop at 9:45 am on a Thursday for forklifts.”
Various responses to Schuyler’s myUMBC post show the general disposition concerning parking among the student body. Two students commented that “There’s always some issue with parking,” and that “There have always been parking issues at this university and always will be.”
“Students should be actively involved in every aspect of campus — we pay thousands of dollars to be here, and this is the community we are immersed in for four or more years of our lives,” Schuyler said. “So I find it really disappointing when people are fed up with things like parking … students absolutely shouldn’t just ‘expect’ the parking situation to be bad.”
Residential students realize that there is a parking issue as well, despite not being as involved as commuters.
“Every morning, I hear people in my class complaining about not being able to find a spot,” said junior political science major Molly Wilson. “The complaints are the same ones I heard when I was a freshman.”
Deputy Chief of UMBC Police Paul Dillon posted various replies to the myUMBC post, noting that the goal of the traffic operation was to direct heavy traffic to spots that had yet to be filled even if that meant some spots in crowded areas would be overlooked. He wrote that the program was meant to benefit the largest percentage of commuters and is not designed to fit individual needs. Dillon also wrote that Sept. 8 would be the last day of the traffic direction.
Though the enclosed nature of UMBC’s campus makes any serious modifications or expansion difficult, Schuyler doesn’t believe that the students or school itself should give up on the idea of eliminating or lessening the issue.
“I really do think UMBC needs a new parking garage. Along with the new facilities and space on campus, it just makes sense,” Schuyler said concerning a possible solution to the problem. Though a parking garage is not part of UMBC’s upcoming construction plans, the school has built a new parking lot near the Walker Avenue apartments and is currently building another next to the Administration Garage.
“I’ve heard people talk about building a smart parking app for UMBC, and I think that is a great idea,” Schuyler said. “In any case, I think UMBC, as a research institution, can come up with a much better solution to our problem than ‘deal with it.’”