After a series of delays that spanned almost the entire 2013-2014 school year, students, staff and visitors at East Tennessee State University now have a state-of-the-art place to park.
With a price tag of $26.1 million, the new 425,000 square-foot car park palace comes complete with a Welcome Center for visitors, offices for campus public safety and, once finished, a food court that will include a Subway.
"It's a very nice facility. It's been kind of a long process, but we have a beautiful building here that I think compliments the campus well," said University Vice-President David Collins.
ETSU's latest improvement sports 1,200 parking spaces, boosting campus parking capacity to just more than 8,000 spaces, and makes campus access easier. "Students can now go, with the exception of lot 22 across the road, from this end of campus all the way to Rogers-Stout without crossing the highway," said Collins.
This makes the trip from one side of the university proper to the other much safer. ETSU said the garage has twenty-nine security cameras and 14 emergency phones across its four levels.
This offers a nice compliment to the new campus police headquarters. "The garage is very open and hopefully will be very safe," said Collins. "It's certainly as safe as we know how to make it right now."
University senior Chynna Roberts said that even though she is about to graduate and leave campus, it is nice to see the project near completion. "Parking can get pretty stressful here. Especially when you are running late," said Roberts. "Sometimes we stalk people just to get their parking spot. I think it will be really convenient for people."
That convenience took much longer than University administrators hoped, and they had to drive over many speed bumps. "It's certainly been difficult," said Collins. "It was the wettest summer just about ever, and the coldest winter in a long, long time. Most everything that could delay a project like this has happened over the last year, which has certainly extended it much more than we would have like to seen it extended."
ETSU plans to move into the Welcome Center and Public Safety offices following the conclusion of the spring semester in May. Collins said construction of the food court should wrap up sometime mid-April.
University spokesperson Joe Smith told News 5 people are welcome to start using the garage right away.