Park nice or pay the price

Jennie Kushner

Currently, there are 103 30-minute parking spaces on campus to service the 30,000 plus student population.

Chris D’Esposito, assistant director of parking operations, said the time-specific spots encourage misuse.

“The problem when you add a lot of 30-minute parking is people will park illegally or longer than they should,” he said. “One of the most abused parking spaces is the time-specific spot.

“The more 30-minute spots added results in reducing parking spots for individuals that have that zone as their designated area,” he said.

Tickets for parking in the time specific spots are $25, compared to the $50 citation for improper zone parking, D’Esposito said.

Zone parking is enforced from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m Monday-Friday. This means students, as well as faculty and staff, must park in a legal parking space within their designated area.

After 6 p.m., zone enforcement is suspended. However, safety violations are always enforced as well as specific areas that are signed for 24-hour enforcement.

“After 6 p.m., we are considered an open campus so if a student is parked between two white lines, they are fine,” Direction of Transportation Services Ronnie Robertson said. “If a car is parked illegally, like in a handicap space, they can still receive a citation.”

Robertson said money from parking tickets goes back to the general fund of transportation services. The department is not state funded.

“[Parking ticket money] supports parking and transit, repairing roads to make them accessible to transit and buses, repaving and construction of roadways, construction of parking lots, our salaries, equipment that we use, cone barricades, trucks, vests, clothes and boots,” he said.

Construction on University roads like Hackberry Lane and Campus Drive is funded by transportation services, not the government, Robertson said. Transit signs on campus are also paid for by transportation services.

Despite the high ticketing prices, D’Esposito said he feels the pricing is fair.

“We instill in our parking monitors that they are not issuing a parking ticket to a bad person, but rather you are protecting the rights of the person who is supposed to park there,” he said.

D’Esposito said the transportation department employs 12 daytime parking monitors who supervise specific areas of campus. These areas are within walking range.

“We ask them to hit every parking lot between two and five times a day,” D’Esposito said.

Two additional parking monitors work the evening hours. D’Esposito said University Police monitor the lots after midnight.

“Safety violations are in effect 24-7,” he said.

Transportation Services, a division of auxiliary services, spends several million dollars per year in total expenses.

D’Esposito said an average parking spot in a surface lot cost $3,000 to $5,000 to build. Spots in parking decks cost close to $13,000 to $16,000 to construct

Robertson said adding additional parking is a challenge for the University because the campus is bordered by the City of Tuscaloosa on three sides and the Black Warrior River on the fourth.

“We can only build up or down due to the land restrictions,” he said. “If there is extra land, it would be better used for an academic building rather than additional parking.”

The total number of parking spaces on campus is 20,116. D’Esposito said that number is supportive to the number of students.

“We don’t always have convenient parking that people want, I wish we could have the ability to allow everyone to park near class or near their residential hall, we just don’t have the land to do so,” he said.

D’Esposito said he sees the prices of parking passes rising in the future.

“You will find out with anything, prices will go up based on the needs, things do not stay the same price,” he said. “We cannot keep a flat rate price as the prices of our vendors go up.”

The exact numbers of future parking passes are currently unknown, he said.

“I don’t have the numbers of the prices, it has to be approved by the University.”

Robertson said UA parking prices are competitive with other Southeastern Conference schools of comparable size.

D’Esposito said the department likes to let people know where their money is going. The costs of projects are listed on their website at bamaparking.ua.edu.