Augusta, GA—Augusta University and Health Center is growing, which is good for the area and the state. This expansion means more jobs, doctors, students, and more life-changing research. The University is also experiencing some growing pains. The campus is quickly expanding, but employees and students tell NewsChannel 6, the parking is not. They say the parking situation is bad and getting worse.
One employee told us she has to park way off campus and walk across six lanes of traffic to get to work. Augusta University students shared similar stories.
Shannon Robbins is a first year nursing student. She says she rarely finds parking close to her classes.
“We have to cross all these lanes of traffic and sometimes a train comes so we have to wait for the train,” Robbins describes. “We have to walk all the way back over there sometimes and then it’s really dangerous so if it’s at night or if we have to come really early and it’s dark it’s kinda scary for younger students to walk down here by themselves.”
Second year dental student Ben Miller says he also has a long trek to class.
“As they’re growing they aren’t really making room for any parking in fact they’re actually planning on getting rid of a lot of the parking,” Miller says.
He is referring to a gravel lot next to the Dental School. Soon it will be home to a new Math and Science building. Miller agrees these new buildings better his school, but says people need to be able to get there.
“If you can’t get people there, what’s the point?” Miller suggests.
Miller pays for a school parking pass, but some of his classmates do not. Some students rely on residential streets near the school and so far they have parked there with no penalty, but that is about to change. Last week, Augusta commissioners passed an ordinance requiring a residential parking pass in the neighborhoods near the University. Law enforcement will soon write tickets to students who park there without a pass. However, it is uncertain at this time how much the ticket will cost.
On Monday, we took the concerns of these students and employees to Augusta University leaders to ask how they plan to keep parking growing at the same rate as the medical facilities.
Chief of Auxiliary, Karl Munschy says, “We’ve been working on parking for a long time, and we’ve tackled a few big problems, but recognize there is more work to do.”
He talked about their newly implemented transit system. It has 12 busses running along 3 different routes from 5:30AM to 11PM. There is also an app to track when the busses will arrive. Some students tell us, it is faster to walk than take the bus. Munschy points out that in a University System, any big change, like a new transit system, takes about 4 years to become the norm.
Robbins wants to see a parking deck. “That lot over there should be a parking deck,” she says.
Miller agrees—“A deck where you could have multiple levels of parking, basically inner city parking is going to be the next step.”
Munschy says he thinks a deck is in the future for AU, but the cost they would have to charge the students and employees who use the deck would be too high to justify building one anytime soon.