Parking options abound

Construction, carpool program to ease lot congestion

By Cody McFarland, Associate Editor

While students anticipate the return of 41 parking spaces in April, those planning to carpool to campus can take part in the college’s first ever carpool program as soon as spring semester begins.

The re-opening of Lot 16 will provide students 41 currently unused parking spaces north of the Art Building and is scheduled for completion in April or March at the earliest, Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said. Students driving a vehicle of three or more persons can avoid this wait, as well as the $40 charge for a student parking permit, King said, by applying for a free carpool permit at the start of spring semester.

Carpool permit applications can be picked up and filled out at Police Services, east of the Bookstore. Permits will be assigned on a first come-first served basis to 15 groups of three or more students who can verify they are currently enrolled at Contra Costa College and will arrive on campus together in one vehicle.

“These are a just a couple of things that will be helpful for the parking situation here,” King said. “It’s not going to solve the problem entirely, but it will help.”

With construction of the new Campus Center and Classroom Building underway, the college was forced into closing various parking lots to accommodate construction equipment and parking for workers. Students further lost parking when some of the remaining spots were converted into faculty only parking.

Lot 16, an exclusively student parking lot of 41 spaces, has been closed since a sinkhole formed in its center more than three years ago, rendering it unsafe and unusable.

Now, thanks to funding from the Measure A 2006 bond and Measure E 2014 bond, the project to stabilize the eroding hillside and re-open Lot 16, including the pre-emptive stabilization of the hill southwest of Lot 17, is underway and on schedule, King said.

The college is using the unique Geopier SRT system to stabilize the hill. Exactly 900 non-displacement steel sections known as Plate Pile elements are being driven into the hillside to stabilize downslope forces and provide resistance, thus preventing the otherwise eroding hillside from sliding downward. The pilings are spaced roughly one foot apart and come in two lengths — 8 and 14 feet.

Once this has been completed, a follow-up project to resurface Lot 16 will be required before it is re-opened. This particular project is still in the design and planning phase, but King anticipates it will be approved, enacted and completed by April at the latest.

“Lot 16 is not in the best position for quick access to all parts of the campus, but it’s somewhere to park, which is what students need,” King said. “I’ve seen students searching like vultures, circling up and down Campus Drive trying to find a spot.”

Business major William Bartlett said he has witnessed this during peak classroom hours on weekday mornings, but is personally unaffected because he arrives at 8 a.m. or earlier and always avoids the rush.

Engineering major Fernando Vigil said he would expect finding a parking space on campus in the morning to be difficult, but has not had any trouble finding parking for his classes at night.

“I study here at night, so I always find a parking spot,” he said.

Those who receive a carpool parking permit will have a guaranteed spot to park every day until 4 p.m.

The 15 carpool spots-to-be, one of which is a handicapped spot, are located in Lot 4 next to the Gym. After 4 p.m. the spots will open up to general permitted student parking.

The project is the brainchild of the Sustainability Committee, a subcommittee of the Operations Council that meets the first Thursday of every month at 7 a.m. in the Buildings and Grounds Conference Room.

“This is a good program to set the pace for the community by promoting carpooling,” King said.

If the college successfully starts this program, contingent upon having enough applicants, CCC will be the first in the district to have a carpool lot. Sister schools Diablo Valley and Los Medanos colleges do not have carpooling programs, King said.

“It’s a small gamble for the school for a worthwhile program,” he said.

Associated Students Union President Antone Agnitsch said he and the ASU plan to promote the carpool parking lot to students during their Welcome Week event the first week of spring semester, but only if too few applicants have signed up.

Though students are excited for additional parking, the metal-against-metal hammering sound emanating from around Lot 16 has been less welcomed.

Assistant preschool teacher in the Early Learning Center Sara Moy said the racket has disrupted several nap times and led one child to complain about it being “too loud.”

Adjunct fine art professor Jiajun Lu said the noises are “terrible” and that they made it difficult for him to instruct his sculpture class learning bronze pouring.

Due to the dangerous nature of pouring hot metals, Lu said he made sure all of his students were informed and capable before proceeding, in spite of the auditory impairment caused by the construction.

“But it’s something they (the college) have to do,” Lu said. “We need more parking. Lot 17 fills up quickly.”