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Planning Moves Forward for West Campus Parking Deck

by on July 19, 2018 1:49 PM

Efforts to build a new parking deck on Penn State's west campus took a step forward on Thursday as a Board of Trustees committee recommended to the appointment of a design-build team for the project.

Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning recommended Clayco, Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri for the garage and related roadway connections. The appointment is pending full board approval at its meeting on Friday at Penn State Berks.

The university plans to redevelop west campus and eventually relocate a substantial portion of its College of Engineering in new buildings there. But first existing surface parking lots in the area would need to be consolidated to make room for construction and add parking spaces.

The project would potentially include a new roadway connection to the west campus deck from West College Avenue near the State College-Ferguson Township line. It also would likely have an extension of White Course Drive to the deck, but there would not be a through route from West College Avenue to North Atherton Street.

Steve Watson, director of campus planning and design, recently presented overviews of a feasibility study to Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors and State College Borough Council.

He said the garage would have an estimated 1,676 parking spaces and would likely be six levels, though its height would be less than a six-story building. It would be the largest parking deck in the area.

Red A lot, adjacent to the Earth and Engineering Science Building, was identified as the primary location for a parking structure. It would replace about 800 existing spots there as well as 300 other spaces in nearby areas.

Possible connection points on West College Avenue were studied and the North Buckhout Street intersection with West College Avenue, where the one-way split occurs, could potentially be reconfigured to provide that access.

Though it was not part of the planning, that access could also facilitate future redevelopment of the former O.W. Houts Property, which could be developed for academic or mixed-use purposes, Watson said.

The connection from West College Avenue would terminate at the parking deck and not allow for through travel on White Course Drive to Atherton Street. Watson said that when White Course apartments were constructed nearly 20 years ago, the borough required there be no connection from the borough's west end to the west campus and that the borough has remained resistant to allowing that cut-through.

Watson said an estimated 75 percent of ingress and egress would be at North Atherton Street and White Course Drive. 

A traffic impact study, which has not yet been completed, was initiated while the university was in session to collect accurate traffic data.

Members of State College Borough Council asked about instead of connecting to West College Avenue if a roadway could instead connect to Blue Course Drive, expressing concern about dumping traffic onto the narrower West College Avenue.

Watson said that the Blue Course Drive connection along the former railroad line was studied, but that an existing dry well beneath the route presented feasibility issues.

Council members asked that the university look into other possible connection points as well.

A stormwater consultant for the feasibility study looked at not only the requirements for the deck but also for the buildout of west campus to have one plan in place.

Clayco is expected to begin working with the College of Engineering master plan team in the fall. Final siting, access and other factors will be determined by the engineering master plan. After that, design would take place in about six to nine months, with construction likely a year later.

The university will be required to submit land development plans for approval by the borough, as well as receive PennDOT approvals. before construction can begin.



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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