Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 21st, 2011 at 12:03 pm
lot. The street on the lower right is
Back in October we shared the news that Portland Community College’s Cascade campus was planning to build a $9 million, four-story parking garage at the corner of N. Michigan and Killingsworth. Now there’s a new option on the table: an underground lot that would be built below existing campus buildings on N Jessup between Mississippi and Albina.
There was significant concern with the multi-level parking garage from some stakeholders not only because of its cost (about $30,000 per slot for an estimated 300 spaces) and fears of inducing auto travel demand, but also due to how the building would impact the streetscape of Killingsworth and the future neighborhood greenway slated for Michigan Ave.
According to the planning firm working with PCC on the project, the underground lot would save the school $1.5 million in construction costs over the above-ground lot; but it would also fit 60 fewer cars (PCC is building the garage thanks to a $374 million bond measure passed by voters in 2008). With auto parking demand already the key factor driving this project, a reduction in capacity is a concern for the College.
According to Bond Advisory Committee meeting notes, a “large majority” of stakeholders support the underground parking garage. The new plans were unveiled earlier this month and PCC published a blog post about it yesterday.
But with parking demand already at a premium, the 60 fewer cars the underground garage would fit means that in order to move forward with it, PCC says they would have to feel confident that a plan to reduce car trips would be successful. In tandem with construction plans, PCC is working on a large-scale transportation demand management (TDM) plan with a goal of increasing the rate of biking and taking transit to the campus (it is just a few blocks from a MAX line and adjacent to a frequent service bus line).
The PCC Bond Program’s Public Involvement/Stakeholder Engagement Manager Gina Whitehill-Baziuk told the advisory committee on December 5th that,
“the proposed underground lot would only work if the College and its external partners can effectively collaborate to meet the TDM targets… If the College finds that it would not be able to meet those targets, the original Option A3 with the proposed four-story garage would need to be reconsidered.”
Of all four of PCC’s main campuses, the Cascade campus in North Portland has the most potential for shifts in travel behavior. A travel preference survey of over 4,800 students, faculty and staff last May showed that 26% of respondents either bike (10%), walk (3%) or take transit (13%) to the campus.
Students seem up to the challenge.
Doug Taylor, President of Associated Students of PCC, said there’s “near universal support” for the underground lot. “It would be embarrassing if the tallest building on campus was a parking structure,” he said during the advisory committee meeting. When reminded by a PCC staff member that the underground lot would mean “students have to get out of their cars and use other options,” Taylor sounded optimistic that behaviors could change. He said bike storage facilities on and around campus would help people bike more and he also mentioned a new program set to start this winter that will refurbish used bikes and lease them out to students for $75 a term.
PCC says they’ll make a final decision on the parking lot by the end of this year. If you have a comment you’d like to share with them, please leave it below and I’ll make sure to pass it along (they don’t seem to have a general public feedback email).