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New parking garage on horizon

Come next fall, the pain of parking at USF should lessen.

Near the Parking Services Building, across the street from the Fine Arts Dept., ground has been broken for a new parking garage, which should be ready for the Fall 2006 semester, according to Parking Services Interim Director Manuel Lopez.

The new garage — dubbed “Garage III” — will have 1,500 spaces, the same as the Collins Blvd. garage, which opened last fall. The Crescent Hill garage holds 800.

The money to build the garage, which will cost $13 million, comes directly from revenue earned by Parking Services, not state funds. Sources of revenue include fines and parking permits, among others.

Upon completion, there will be about 20,000 USF-controlled parking spaces on campus (the Moffitt Center garage and other lots near that area are not controlled by USF).

With enrollment increasing every year, the new garage should help ease frustrating parking woes for students and staff, Lopez said.

“It’s in response to a number of things: more students, more staff and new facilities,” Lopez said. “We’re trying to anticipate the needs.”

Sophomore Sarah Goolsby, who drives to class from Land O’ Lakes, doesn’t think parking was that bad to begin with.

“I can see why people get upset about it because it’s kind of crowded,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s that big of a problem.”

According to Lopez, students should always be able to find parking as 14 percent of parking spaces, at the peak of traffic, are vacant.

“The parking may not be in front of your door,” said Lopez, who has been at USF since 2004. “But there is space at USF. You may have to park and take the shuttle or walk, but there should be enough capacity for everyone here.”

To make things easier for commuting students, Parking Services began selling permits on July 18, earlier than in the past, Lopez said.

“We try to provide as much information as possible so we can minimize and eliminate parking frustrations,” Lopez said.

Also, 79 percent of the 26,853 parking permits for the 2005-06 school year were bought online, the highest percentage since permits have been available on the Internet, Lopez said.