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New lot designations expected to ease parking challenges

Fred Bauknecht says he wants parking on Western Carolina University’s campus to make more sense.

The parking and transportation director at WCU, appointed to the new position in November, wanted to make meaningful changes to make finding a parking space on campus easier for everyone – and to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly.

His solution is to redesignate the parking lots, effective with the start of fall semester.

“We are trying to limit the traffic caused by vehicles searching for a parking space in the center of campus,” Bauknecht said. “As we add parking lots, they will be constructed on the perimeter of campus and drivers will walk, bike or take CatTran into the core.”

Bauknecht said he recently was given a mission by Mike Byers, vice chancellor for administration and finance, to come up with ideas for improving the overall parking situation, especially in light of three construction projects currently underway or planned in the center of campus – Noble Hall, Brown Building and a replacement for the Natural Sciences Building.

The challenge was complicated, Bauknecht said. “With growth comes change. Anywhere there’s construction, the lots will be closed. So we redesignate the parking lots,” he said.

He began to put together a plan, incorporating the addition of 500 spaces that will be available with the removal of the old faculty and staff apartment building across N.C. Highway 107, and adding lighting for the pedestrian bridge over the highway and a CatTran stop. The plan will move the less-frequently used cars away from the campus center and out to the perimeter, Bauknecht said.

He designated the lots by Ramsey Center for commuter use, so that students won’t be confused about which weekends they might have to move or be towed during football season. Traffic for special events will be directed to come in at the Forest Hills entrance, and a CatTran commuter shuttle will be created to take visitors from there to events in the A.K. Hinds University Center or elsewhere on campus.

Lately, Bauknecht has been taking a Powerpoint show about the changes “on the road,” making presentations to various groups:



Freshman Parking

This move allows all freshman parking to be located in one area of campus.

Walker “A” Lot (19A) and Catamount Center Lot (73) allows freshmen who live in Scott and Walker residence halls to have parking closer to their rooms and within walking distance.

A CatTran stop also will be added for student convenience.






Commuter Parking

Commuter parking will be moved to one area of campus to allow students to enter and access commuter lots through Forest Hills Road, reducing traffic flow problems at the main entrance during peak hours.

Commuter students will have the freedom of entering and exiting the university without driving through the core of campus searching for a parking space.

The newly designated lots will allow convenient parking for athletic and special events.



Resident Parking

Resident parking will be located directly around the living areas on campus. This should allow students to park their vehicles near their residence halls and walk, bike or use the Cat Tran to travel into the core of campus for classes, dining and other activities.

More Wal-Mart shuttles have been added for student convenience.




Metered Lots

Two metered lots will be added in 2016, one at Noble Hall, where the bank previously stood, and one at the Reid Gym Lot (18A). The two metered lots will enable students, faculty/staff and visitors to park and explore the center of campus while enjoying dining, shopping and the Noble Hall retail area.

Meter rates are $1 per 30 minutes for all metered lots.

Metered lots are now monitored until 7 p.m., and will be monitored until 11 p.m. beginning Aug.1.




Resident Storage Lot

A portion of the Health and Human Sciences overflow lot (76B) will be converted to a storage lot for resident students who wish to store their vehicles for a minimum fee. This lot will have its own permit, but will not allow students to park on campus.

This is a storage parking lot. The CatTran already accesses this lot during business hours.




Faculty/Staff Parking

Faculty/staff lots will stay the same except for the addition of Buchanan Lot (54) for additional employee parking at Brown Cafeteria renovation.








Composite Lot Designation Map





One of Bauknecht’s initial solutions to finding temporary parking in the core of the campus was introduced in August 2014 when the Coulter Lot (33) was converted to metered parking. “A metered lot means more movement in the center of campus. It means a lot anyone can use,” Bauknecht said. “This was one of the first things we needed to do, so we could use resources more efficiently. Students had nowhere to park short-term in the middle of campus.”

After several months study of usage, the decision was made to reduce the fee from $3 per hour to $1 per half-hour beginning in January of this year and to extend the hours of monitoring from 5 to 7 p.m. “We found we could lower prices and more people would use it; we wanted everyone to be able to use it,” Bauknecht said.

For more information about the changes in campus parking, visit or contact Bauknecht at 828-227-7275.

By Keith Brenton

Categories | The Reporter

Photos | WCU News Services

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