Thursday morning’s grand opening of The University of Southern Mississippi’s new parking garage signals the addition of approximately 1,200 vehicle spaces to the Hattiesburg campus.
The five-story, open zone facility is available to students, faculty and staff driving vehicles registered through the university’s Department of Parking Management.
Built in response to a need for additional parking options, it also includes security lighting, handicapped parking and elevators and will be patrolled regularly by the University Police Department. It is located off of West Fourth Street next to Bond Hall.
Student Government Association President Erick Brown of Columbus, Miss. praised university officials for responding to the requests of students for additional parking with the project.
“Our new parking garage stands as a reminder that the voices of students matter at Southern Miss,” Brown said. “When we speak, our administration listens and follows up with action.”
Vehicle registration fees fund the construction cost of the $15.5 million structure, financed through the university’s first public/private third party construction partnership, Eagle Parking LLC. This developer consortium is composed of five local companies and a consultant.
Built by Finlo Construction and L and A Construction of Hattiesburg and designed by Albert and Associates architectural firm of Hattiesburg, it is the first multi-level parking facility on a university campus in the state.
The garage not only provides an increase in total parking spaces, but also replaces those lost after construction of the Century Park residential complex and reduces traffic flow in and around campus, said Southern Miss President Martha Saunders. “This project is an important cornerstone in our campus master plan, and is much needed as we continue to grow in enrollment,” she said at the facility’s opening.
Other safety features of the parking garage include 10 Code Blue phones tied into the university’s 911 system; elevator emergency phones with direct contact to the University Police Department (UPD); 50+ video cameras; lighting throughout to include exterior and stairwells; and a fire monitoring system.
In line with the university’s sustainability efforts, the university reduces the “heat island” effect by 400 percent with the new garage by stacking parking on five levels. The facility also represents the university’s commitment to protecting green space on the Hattiesburg campus. Duplicating the garage’s 1,200 spaces would have required surface parking equivalent to an area the size of eight football fields.
“I’m thrilled for our students, as well as faculty and staff who desire more parking availability on campus. We’ve been challenged for years with this issue, and the new parking garage gives us much relief,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Joe Paul.