Closures of the Central Garage explained

Students and staff alike have been pondering the same question for the past two months: “What’s going on with the Central Garage?” The closures of the garage on campus, with no set schedule, have created some confusion, leading many students to seek out alternative parking spaces and an explanation.

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Signage outside of the Central Garage is the only indicator of current closures. Located between the Social Science and Natural Sciences Buildings, the Central Garage contains 297 parking spots for students, staff and faculty. Photo credit: Kathryn DuFresne

Although it is the smallest of the three garages that UAA offers, it is in a heavy traffic area on campus, as the library is nearby. Located between the Social Sciences and Natural Science buildings, it contains 297 spaces, seven reserved for ADA-accessible parking.

Finding a place to park at the university often proves challenging. Between classes, work and other activities, UAA students keep themselves busy, and even a five or 10-minute delay in locating a parking space can impact schedules. With unexpected closures of an essential garage occurring throughout September and October, it has taken a toll on those attending classes.

Jaycob Goff, a freshman business economics major, has felt the effects of the closures and parking at UAA.

“I didn’t really expect parking to be so crazy here when I first enrolled, but since the first day of class, I’ve had trouble with full parking lots. I’ve learned to leave my dorm extra early to find a spot,” Goff said.

Due to the majority of his classes being located near central campus, Goff is a regular when it comes to parking in the Central Garage.

“Since it’s been closed, I’ve found myself circling parking lots two or even three times trying to find a place to park. I feel like I’m back in my first week of college again,” Goff said.

According to UAA Facilities news, the Sept. 15-26 closure of the Central Garage was due to repairs to drain lines inside the garage. The previous winter’s weather caused frequent back-ups of the drains, creating icy and dangerous conditions for garage users in vehicles and on foot.

“The ice formed created a safety issue,” Falon Harkins, associate director of Parking Services, said. “If the drainage was not fixed, the garage could be unusable for the entire upcoming winter.”

Harkins does his best to keep the campus updated on parking-related issues and closures. However, it has been challenging to keep others informed on the Central Garage closure.

“The day I find out, I let others know,” Harkins said. “It can be damaging to give a set closure date [though], because there can always be unexpected delays.”

Parking Services doesn’t like closing garages during the school year. Since this issue regarded the safety of students, closures were necessary.

The garage was also closed for two weeks in the month of October, and on Oct. 31, it was the only closure of that month that was posted on the website. It was referred to as “ongoing maintenance,” and encouraged students to check for upcoming closures, a sign that the work was not yet complete.

Although the closures of the Central Garage were posted on UAA’s parking website, they were not publicized in the garage itself. The entrance was blocked by signs, allowing no access.

The exact cause of the unannounced closures, according to Facilities Planning and Construction, was due to “the drain lines having heat trace.” Essentially, the problem created an ice condition, and they are trying to remedy it before winter is in full swing.

The project has faced some delay issues due to wet weather, but the garage is tentatively scheduled to reopen soon, although an exact date is unknown.