Parking garage and perimeter lot parking prices will increase for next year
"We're not trying to go $20 or anything like that," Huggins said.
Currently, a perimeter parking lot space is $75 per year, and garage spaces range from $280 per semester in Pendleton and Senate garages to $340 per semester in the Bull Street Garage. Huggins said garage parking varies in price according to the garage's proximity to the core campus.
Huggins said the increases would go toward doing improvements and repairs on parking garages as well as filling potholes and installing lighting in perimeter lots. Currently, USC estimates it needs to spend $560 million on deferred maintenance projects, some of which would go toward fixing its garages.
Students who park in perimeter lots have also frequently complained about their cars being broken into and have often put the blame on a lack of lighting.
"We hadn't had a change over the last three to four years, and structural
integrity is very important for us," Huggins said. "You have to keep those garages up, and it's a huge bill to go in and waterproof, put in any type of beams or do the structural integrity analysis on all of those garages. That's one of those things that's just so important we have to pay for it."
Huggins also said that anyone who has seen USC's perimeter lots knows they need asphalt work.
"We've been very mindful over the last couple years of the economy and trying to work with the money we have," Huggins said. "But we're in a situation now where we have to improve these lots to make them safe."
Amanda Fabian, a fourth-year geophyisics student, supports the price increases if they mean improved quality and safety.
"I mean, of course [the price increase is] inconvenient for the students, but I think safety is an important issue on campus, so if that's what they're going to use this for, it might be worth it in the long run," Fabian said.
But, John Anderson, a fifth-year sociology student, disagrees.
"I think they should get more parking before they fix what they have now," Anderson said.
At the meeting Thursday morning in the Osborne Administration Building, Huggins met with assembled bigwigs from USC and the City of Columbia — including USC President Harris Pastides, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, USC Provost Michael Amiridis, Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott and USC Police Department Director Chris Wuchenich — to form a coalition to address traffic, pedestrian and cycling safety. The coalition will focus on solutions in the near future, and the first meeting's discussion focused mainly on educating students about safety and Columbia's traffic rules.
In February, first-year student Mac Dunbar was hospitalized after being hit by a suspected drunken driver while crossing the road between Sonic Drive-In and the Swearingen Engineering Center. The incident has drawn concerns about the safety of students who cross at that particular area.
"First of all, we have to look at it comprehensively," Pastides said. "We need to look at lighting; we need to look at crosswalks; we need to look at why the cross bridge (from the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center to the other side of Assembly Street) isn't used as much. And I think this meeting tended to put the impact on the pedestrian — it's also the driver; it's also driver education."
Pastides said he hopes there will never be a similar such incident during his presidency.