(May 1, 2013) The ribbon cutting for the new McNeese State University student parking garage was held Wednesday, May 1.
All students with a current McNeese parking permit - commuter and resident - can park in the garage. Students voted during the spring 2011 semester to pay a $75 fee to build the three-story, 865-vehicle parking garage.
Davante Lewis, McNeese Student Government Association president, served as master of ceremonies.
Lewis thanked the students for voting to build the parking garage and said it will benefit future generations of McNeese students. "This is a testament to students wanting to make the campus better and safer," he said.
McNeese President Dr. Philip Williams reminded those gathered for the official opening that it was the death of McNeese freshman Ashlea Richard that was the catalyst for student support of a parking garage. He asked for a moment of silence to remember her.
In October 2010 Richard, a McNeese freshman, was struck by vehicle walking to campus from the freshman parking lot at the football stadium.
"When I arrived in the summer of 2010 the SGA president met with me and shared his concerns about students parking off campus and pedestrian safety," Williams said. At the time of Richard's death, Williams and student leaders were preparing for a meeting with city and state officials about crosswalks and traffic flow near the McNeese campus.
"Since that day, the administration and the SGA partnership worked to get student support to build a parking garage on campus. Through the overwhelming support and unselfish commitment of the students, this facility is a reality and I could not be more pleased," Williams said.
Shortly after Richard's death, McNeese officials and students met with representatives from the city of Lake Charles and the state Department of Transportation and Development to look for solutions to and reduce the risk of pedestrian injuries" Candace Townsend, director of public relations, said.
"A number of changes and improvements were made including lowering speed limits on Common Street and Sale Road during class days, repainting crosswalks and adding signage, extending the sidewalk from stadium parking along the front of the Alumni Center and the complete reengineering of the intersection of Common and McNeese streets with restricted turn lanes and crosswalk timers," she said.
McNeese officials and students considered several options to improve pedestrian safety including shuttle buses and pedestrian bridges, and the parking garage was the solution most favored by students, Townsend said.
The main McNeese campus is surrounded by four public streets--Ryan, Sale, Common and McNeese--each with heavy vehicular traffic. "Sufficient space is not available to add parking lots on the main campus, so a parking garage would increase parking on the main campus and lessen the risk of student injuries from vehicular traffic, Williams explained.
The parking garage is located on the rectangle of land between Cameron Drive and Vermilion Street and Common Street and Vernon Drive. Previously this area was used for the marching band practice field and parking for upperclassmen and residents.
The Estopinal Group-Shreveport designed the garage. The contractor was Ratcliff Construction of Alexandria.
McNeese Student Parking Garage Facts
-341,352 square feet
-865 available parking spaces including accessible spaces on the first floor
-Designed for the possibility of adding one more floor to park an additional 314 cars
There are three entrance/exits and two additional entrances only. The north and south entrance/exits have three lanes: one entrance lane and two exit lanes allowing traffic to turn both left and right. Exiting the McNeese campus from Cameron Drive onto Common Street will become right turn only.
There are two elevators on the west side of the structure. Each elevator has emergency call buttons and security cameras. There are five stairwells spread evenly throughout the garage.
Security features include 66 high definition color cameras, two emergency- blue light call boxes that dial directly to campus police and have speakers that are tied into the university's outdoor emergency broadcast system.
There are numerous static informational way finding signs throughout the facility to guide all vehicles.
The structure includes a car counting system that tracks the number of vehicles entering and leaving the structure and the number entering and leaving each level. Real time counters on the ramps tell drivers precisely the number of vehicles on each level and electronic signs on the outside of the garage will show if the garage is open or full/closed.
The garage includes a 23,730 cubic foot, or 178,000 gallons, storm water rain detention storage system underneath the garage to divert rainwater slowly. That would be enough to fill a six-lane pool 25 yards long by 8 feet deep.