Rutgers Transportation Director explains decision to eliminate 50 parking spots along College Avenue
Drivers accustomed to parking along College Avenue were met with a surprise earlier this year when the University announced that the parking spaces along the street would be terminated.
The decision eliminated 50 parking spaces along College Avenue between Huntington and Hamilton Streets in favor of bicycle and bus lanes, according to a press release the University released in January.
Jack Molenaar, senior director of Transportation Services, said that students and residents of New Brunswick alike should not be concerned over the loss of spaces and that there are numerous alternatives provided by both the city and the University.
Molenaar said permit-holding students are encouraged to use the College Avenue parking deck.
“There is currently enough parking on the College Avenue campus for all users,” Molenaar said. “In fact, the top level of the College Avenue parking deck is always empty.”
Molenaar said that students who do not hold parking permits for the lots and garages on the College Avenue campus are able to park their vehicles in the Gateway parking deck, which is located adjacent to the New Brunswick Train Station and surrounded by Wall Street, Somerset Street and Easton Avenue.
The deck is run by the New Brunswick Parking Authority and houses 656 parking spaces for public use at a rate of $2 an hour, according to a 2011 article in New Brunswick Today.
He said that he expects the removal of street parking on College Avenue to be a positive change for pedestrians and drivers. According to the University’s press release, Rutgers plans on establishing bike and bus lanes in the areas formerly taken up by metered street parking.
Molenaar said that the University is expecting a decrease in traffic along College Avenue since there will no longer be cars circling the campus in search of metered parking.
Abigail Pinto, a Rutgers Business School first-year student, said that despite the fact that she plans on commuting next semester, the elimination of street parking on College Avenue will be a positive adjustment for students as a whole.
“As much as I would like to have metered parking on campus, the road is not super wide so I see why they took it out,” Pinto said. ”I think that the paid parking garage by the train station works out well. It's a reasonable substitute.”
Pinto said she favored the idea of bike and bus lanes over street parking and that their introduction will make navigating the College Avenue campus as a pedestrian both easier and safer.
“I have a parking permit, but if we can park (in the Gateway garage) I think that is fine,” said Zack Wang, a Rutgers Graduate School senior.
Wang said that even though the initial loss of the 50 spaces will cause difficulties at first, the alternative parking solutions will be effective in easing the traffic congestion that is common on College Avenue during the day.
Rhea Christmas, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, has her car on campus and regularly utilizes street parking on College Avenue since her parking permit is not on the College Avenue campus. But she said the changes have not severely impacted her routine.
“There’s still meters down by the Academic Building,” Christmas said. “And since I have a permit, if I park here on the weekend I can park in the student center lot. I don’t use (the Gateway garage) because I can usually find a spot.”
Christmas said that while alternative parking solutions such as the Gateway garage may be inconvenient, they are still effective in recouping the spaces lost along the stretch of College Avenue.
The parking spaces are a small price to pay for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, Christmas said.
“We have a lot of people who are on bikes. I want to make sure that people are able to ride safely throughout the streets,” Christmas said. “My parking spot isn't as important as somebody being safe on their bike.”
Matt Powell is a School of Arts and Sciences senior. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.