JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - The biggest student complaint at ETSU will likely grow this fall -- the university's $26 million solution to an on-campus parking problem won't be complete when students show up for classes next month.
"A lot of students find themselves parking way out, walking to class if they can find parking," said student Marc Giuffrida. "Most of them are late, it's kind of tough."
Students have complained for years about a lack of desirable parking. The new four-story parking garage next to the Mini-Dome will address many of those complaints; it was scheduled to be finished by August.
Thanks to persistent rains and material delays, crews are a long way from finishing the work. "We knew it was going to be a very, very tight construction schedule and things would have to go perfect to get it open by the fall," says ETSU Vice President David Collins, "but as usual with construction projects, things happen."
ETSU officials now estimate it will be early October before students can park inside.
The new parking garage includes roughly 1,200 spaces, but if it's not open when the 15,000 students return to class, where will they park? That's a question the university can't answer right now.
The parking shortage could be the worst ever this year due to reconstruction of a lot adjacent to the garage which is also behind schedule. Last year the more than 500 spaces were open to students.
"At least we're being told it will be ready August 15," says Collins. "Again it depends on the weather, it's been a very wet summer and that affects construction schedules."
Collins says they've identified some alternative parking lots and are working with the transit system on a worst-case scenario to help shuttle students around campus. "It's pretty convenient to just ride [the shuttle] around," says Giuffrida, who tells us he giving up on parking a long time ago.
Construction of a new welcome center and public safety office is also delayed because of the rainy summer. The new facilities will be connected to the new parking garage and are not expected to be complete until after the garage opens.
The delays are within the acceptable over-run period of the contract.
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