Parking is a consistent pain point at universities across the nation, particularly landlocked urban campuses like the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In order to enhance the student, employee and guest experience, UAB engaged Kimley Horn, a premier planning and design engineering consultant, to conduct a comprehensive parking and transportation study that would guide planning, management and policy for short- and long-term improvements.
The study took into account parking volume and forecasted demand, traffic patterns and transit routes, technology, class schedules, City of Birmingham infrastructure, direct constituent feedback, and the safety of pedestrians, bikers and drivers, among other factors. The result was a series of recommendations that UAB administrators discussed and approved with a steering committee that comprised faculty, staff and student representatives, including the undergraduate and graduate student body presidents.
“Parking and transportation touch thousands of our students, employees, guests and patients every day, so it was no surprise that the discussion and engagement throughout this process has been so robust,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “I want to thank everyone who participated in being a part of the solutions the campus community is sure to enjoy. We know these improvements can’t happen soon enough, so we are committed to seeing this process through aggressively.”
Parking and Transportation Services Director Andre Davis is excited the future of his division will be guided by student, faculty and staff input, as well as expert analysis that informs strategic, sustainable decisions. He reminds the campus of existing resources and available parking.
“We are taking many actions to meet the needs of our growing campus,” Davis said. “We have plans to add at least two new parking decks, and update additional infrastructure and policies. In the meantime, we encourage students to take advantage of the Blazer Express and our express parking lots that have still never once been full.”
The two new parking decks are planned to be on campus in the next 3-5 years, one in the Arts District and one in the Graduate Research District — pending approval of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.
Other plans include: Coordination of on-street parking assets and technology with the City of Birmingham; initiation of a Transportation Demand Management program and a new TDM manager to improve access to alternative modes of transportation; continued enhancement of lot security and lighting, the Blazer Express on-campus bus service and roadway crossings for pedestrians; continued investment in new bicycle parking facilities and safe bike routes; continued upgrades to parking management technology including online services, advanced gate equipment and pay stations; establishment of a zone-based parking assignment system to reduce circulation time when searching for a spot; and focused operational improvements specific to patient access in the Healthcare District.
Some plans are already moving forward. Other elements require further approvals by the City of Birmingham and/or the Board of Trustees.