The University Record, June 19, 2000

Preliminary work set to begin on Palmer Drive construction site

By Diane Brown
Facilities and Operations

Another major construction site will appear on campus this month as several years of building begins in the Palmer Drive area. The site is bounded by the Central Power Plant, Washtenaw Avenue, Ruthven Museum, School of Dentistry, Fletcher Parking Structure, Grounds and Waste Management offices and Building Services offices. Formerly the location of a University horse stable and coal pit, the Central Campus corner will be home to the Life Sciences Institute building, a 1,040-space parking structure, a Commons Building and the Walgreen Drama Center.

Three hundred surface parking spaces to the east and south of the Central Power Plant will become part of the construction site as of early July, and the Palmer Drive entrance to the Fletcher Parking Structure will be closed. Parking patrons will be able to access the structure from the Fletcher Street entrance.

“Most surface parking in the Palmer Drive area will be closed the week of July 10 for site preparation work,” says Bryan Valachek, project engineer from Plant Extension, “though some spaces will remain open near the Key Shop. In August, we’ll begin relocating the utilities that run along Palmer Drive and begin the earth retention and excavation for the parking deck and Life Sciences Institute building.”

Several initiatives have been developed in order to reduce the impact of the lost faculty/staff, visitor and service vehicle surface parking spaces around the Power Plant.

“We’re excited about having a new parking structure built,” says Patrick Cunningham, director of Parking and Transportation Services. “Unfortunately, in order to build the 1,040 spaces, we lose 300 spaces in the short term. But we continue to evaluate and implement creative solutions in order to address our parking situation.

“In the Fletcher Parking Structure, we’ll reassign some spaces so we can fully utilize all spaces there. Since the Palmer Drive construction site will only accommodate construction vehicles, the construction workers will park their personal vehicles at a remote location rather than in nearby University or city parking areas.

“In July, we’ll also be reassigning 191 visitor spaces in the Taubman Parking Structure to Medical Campus blue permit holders through a lottery process. In the fall, we’ll add up to 300 orange spaces in a new lot on the north side of Fuller Road across from the Mitchell Field parking area.”

The Blue Crunch Lot will return in the fall with expanded service to the Medical Campus. Last winter’s pilot project using Elbel Field, which featured parking for blue permit holders and free rides to their Central Campus destinations, served up to 50 people per day. This fall, the Blue Crunch Lot will move north across the street to the Coliseum Parking Lot.

“Now is a good time for many faculty and staff to try the variety of transportation alternatives that we offer, including Park-N-Ride and the bus pass program,” Cunningham adds.