Q Lot changeover beginsConstruction crews began this week pulverizing the pavement of UW-River Falls’ “Q Lot,” sometimes known off campus as the ‘Third Street lot.’
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Construction crews began this week pulverizing the pavement of UW-River Falls’ “Q Lot,” sometimes known off campus as the ‘Third Street lot.’
The pavement of both the parking lot and Third Street will give way to a new, expanded parking lot with pay-station kiosks and a reworked yard area in front of the west-side door of historic North Hall.
Facilities Management Director Mike Stifter said Monday, “They hope tomorrow to start the pulverizing.”
He estimates that will occupy the first few days then comes erosion control and probably two weeks of excavation and grading. Crews spent a few days last week removing the parking meters and concrete stop blocks in the lot.
Completion of the project is expected by the end of August.
Stifter confirms that the city has vacated the small strip of Third Street that runs between the soon-to-change Q Lot and North Hall, with Cascade Avenue on one end and Spring Street at the other. The space that used to be Third Street will be used to expand the parking lot and help meet the ‘parking neutral’ goal of the Cascade Avenue reconstruction plan.
On-street parking will no longer be allowed along Cascade, but the additional spots created in Q Lot replace the spots lost along Cascade, plus adds about eight additional spaces.
The combined capacity of both Q Lot and what could fit along Cascade Avenue was 330 spaces -- 217 in the parking lot and roughly 90 on the street.
City Engineer Reid Wronski says counting the number of parking spaces on a street cannot be exact because the cars are each a different size, so the amount of space they occupy varies.
Stifter said the new, redone lot would contain 337 spaces -- all the same size. He says the east and west ends of the parking lot will change the most.
Manager for the Office of University Police and Parking, Wendy Penny, has been closely involved with the project.
She said the pay-by-space lot will have 208 pay spaces, 10 motorcycle pay spaces, 16 spaces for the physically challenged and 103 permit-parking employee spaces.
Penny said Q Lot will feature three Luke II-brand pay stations. Each space in the lot will be numbered, and people will go to one of the stations to pay for the space number they’re in and the amount of time they want.
Users get a receipt that they keep -- it does not have to be displayed on the dash.
Parking patrons may pay by credit card, cash or coin, and the “going” rate will be 75 cents per hour.
During project meetings over the past year to 18 months, some have lamented that the free on-street parking was not replaced with free parking elsewhere.
Penny said other options are offered for the pay stations, but the ones in Q Lot won’t have all the different features available, such as pay by phone.
Stifter confirms that after the lot is finished, the area where the flagpole now sits outside the west door of North Hall will be extended.
Local man and 34-year UW-River Falls maintenance staffer Larry Larson offered an idea to improve the area, partly as a way to honor his mom, who’s an alumnus of the college.
Larson proposed a courtyard-like setting and pledged to help with a donation toward the enhancements.
Stifter says especially with Cascade’s new configuration, people approaching the university will see that area as they approach campus.
He says a team of people including Larson has been working on the courtyard design, taking care to blend it well with North Hall and other surroundings.
Stifter and Larson both say the area will feature three flagpoles, lights, plantings and benches.
As for the long-term future of on-campus parking, Stifter confirms that a parking garage is mentioned in the campus master plan -- mostly as a possibility in the university’s 20-year future.
The plan also acknowledges that Q Lot is a site it could possibly go.
He said research on garage costs reveals that conservatively, they cost around $15,000 per space to build.
Penny mentions that the UWRF parking system is completely self-sustaining -- not a dime of the state-approved budget money goes toward parking. She said more data proves that the garage would have to make roughly $1,600 per space per day in order to break even.
Stifter says there are also concerns about plopping a parking garage so close to two historic buildings on campus, North and South Halls.
For now though, the makeover and rebuild of Q Lot continues, to result in an expanded and upgraded lot that will accommodate university parking for many years into the future.