The desperate waving of remote-control car keys in all directions, hoping for a reassuring beep or the flash of taillights is the telltale sign. Others not wishing to advertise their predicament wander from floor to floor of the Collins Boulevard Parking Garage, scrutinizing the long lines of parked cars.
Whether bold or reserved, their tale is the same: They’re sure they parked on this level, but they just can’t find their car.
Lauren Brown, who uses her boyfriend’s car to visit the Library, had not found his car after 10 minutes of searching.
“Yeah, it’s great. Not only do I get somewhere to park, I get a workout trying to find it,” she said.
Struggling to locate a car in a large, uniform multi-storied car park is hardly new. But USF’s newest parking facility has added a new twist to the problem.
In scientific terms the structure of the new parking facility is known as a double helix. It may delight those of an engineering bent, but for some students it can prove downright perplexing.
The confusion arises from the fact that both the east and west ends of the garage have up and down ramps. Students parking on a ramp close to the Maple Drive exit who return to their cars by the L. Collins Boulevard entrance are finding themselves puzzled and confused. What they’re not finding, at least at first, is their car.
For students long accustomed to circling lots to find a parking spot in the morning, the irony of problems arising on their way out of campus has not been lost.
“I’m glad that’s (the garage is) here, but it is a little confusing,” said senior Matthew Sanchez, who briefly had trouble finding his car Thursday.
Manuel Lopez, interim director of parking and transportation services, said his office had not received any complaints from students about the structure of the new garage.
“If they would park in the ramp and they exit the east and come in the garage at the west side I can see how they (would have trouble),” Lopez said. “That’s the only thing I can think of.”
The new facility houses 1,541 new parking spots, of which approximately 1,039 are for non-resident students. Each floor of the garage, which cost around $14 million to construct, can accommodate about 300 cars. Signs showing the floor number are posted on every level and ramp. Additionally, each stairwell has a map showing the parking spaces on that floor.
“When (the garage) becomes that big then (losing your car) comes with the territory,” Lopez said. “It requires you to be more attentive to your location.”
Frank Granda, operations manager for parking and transportation services, said the double-helix design allows for more parking spaces and improves the flow of traffic throughout the facility.
Granda advised students parking in the garage to remember a visual marker to avoid being unable to locate their cars. Lopez said he would welcome suggestions from students on measures to improve the facility.
The problem of students being unable to locate their cars on campus did not arrive with the new garage, said University Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Klingebiel.
“On any given semester we get 100 of those calls,” he said. “We’ve not had many complaints about the new garage.”
Nevertheless, Klingebiel is not surprised some students are having trouble locating their car in the new facility.
“It’s a new building; your subconscious hasn’t learned the ins and outs,” he said. “It’s one color. It looks exactly the same on both entrances.”
New parking facility may add more non-resident spaces
Parking and transportation services are monitoring the use of gold-pass parking spaces in the new garage to determine whether some spaces can be re-designated for student parking.
Lopez said staff are recording the number of vacant gold-pass spots twice a day.
“If it continues this way there’s a possibility some will be assigned to non-resident,” Lopez said.