Florence and the parking dilemmas
Students encounter traffic difficulties because of concert
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 00:09
In preparation for Tuesday’s Florence and the Machine concert at 8 p.m. all Sun Dome parking lots, except Lot 22A, were closed all day, leading to congested traffic and irate drivers.
“The university has a practice of closing certain lots during the day when there are sizeable events on campus. Doing so helps to control traffic flow and parking,” Raymond Mensah, director of parking and transportation services, said in a written statement to The Oracle. “Containing event traffic to areas close to the venue helps to mitigate traffic onto and off campus, and facilitates parking in the designated areas.”
A total of 900 parking spaces were closed, though overflow parking was created near the Sun Dome between Cooper Hall and the Business building and special parking was established in Research Park, Mensah said.
Though students were issued a parking and traffic alert sent via email from Parking and Transportation Services on last Friday, many students were unprepared when they arrived on campus Tuesday morning.
“I anticipated that there was going to be crazy traffic,” Mary Ghazarian, a graduate student in history, said. “I don’t understand why they are closing it so early. They could have avoided all the problems they are having.”
Ghazarian said she spent an hour looking for an empty parking spot. After searching for a spot around the Library and in the Leroy Collins Boulevard Parking Garage, she ended up parking in a GZ1 parking spot out of frustration.
“I’ve had bad parking experiences, but never like this,” Ghazarian, who has been a student at USF for more than seven years, said.
Dena Tham, a junior majoring in mass communications also circled the campus in search of a spot.
“I drove through the garage three times, twice around the Library and tried the Sun Dome only to be told to make a U-turn. I’ve never had an issue with parking this bad before,” Tham said. “It got to the point where I was driving around for 30 minutes. I was so late to class. I ended up spending more time searching for a spot than I would have in class.”
Students who did park in Lot22A and did not remove their cars by 5:30 p.m. faced a fine of $75.
The previous concert, Elton John’s performance on Sept. 14, occurred on a Friday evening when normal campus activities require less parking, Mensah said.
Traffic was also a greater concern Tuesday because the men’s soccer team played a 7:30 p.m. game against Florida Gulf Coast University at the Corbett Soccer Stadium.
With dozens of students constantly trolling parking lots searching for spots, annoyance grew and some students even engaged in conflicts, shouting at other drivers as they battled for parking spots.
Meylin Baez, a senior majoring in criminology, who missed her lunch and almost missed a class after spending two hours searching for a spot, said she hopes in the future more notice is give.
“They should’ve warned us more,” she said. “The one email that everyone else got — I didn’t get and I check my email every day. ... In my class, attendance is a grade and being late counts as an absence. Luckily I made it on time, but I know a lot of people who were late or missed class ... Students are USF’s first priority, not a concert.”