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Penn State Planning West Campus Parking Deck

As Penn State looks at redeveloping west campus, the university would first need to build a new parking deck that would consolidate existing lots in the area.

Steve Watson, director of campus planning and design, gave an overview of a recently concluded feasibility study at this week’s Ferguson Township Board of Commissioners meeting.

The project would potentially include a new roadway connection to the west campus deck from West College Avenue near the State College-Ferguson Township line. It also would likely have an extension of White Course Drive to the deck, but there would not be a through route from West College Avenue to North Atherton Street.

Watson said the university undertook the feasibility study as part of a long-range planning initiative tied to future academic expansion of west campus and ongoing master planning for the College of Engineering. The idea for a west campus parking deck dates back nearly 15 years when it, and a potential connection to West College Avenue, were first included in a west campus master plan.

“The building opportunities that exist on west campus are on existing surface parking,” Watson said. “To develop west campus we’re going to need to consolidate that parking into a parking deck.”

The feasibility study looked at the potential for a parking deck, necessary stormwater improvements for both the deck and the future buildout of west campus, and needed roadway improvements.

Red A lot, adjacent to the Earth and Engineering Science Building, was identified as the primary location for a parking structure.

The potential deck would have an estimated 1,676 spaces with six tiers and covered bike storage on ground level. Watson said the university would work with CATA for local and intracampus bus route stops.

Early in the feasibility study, consultants met with regional planners, engineers and others for insight on possible connection points on West College Avenue. The North Buckhout Street intersection with West College Avenue, where the one-way split occurs, could potentially be reconfigured to provide that access.

Though it was not part of the planning, that access could also facilitate future redevelopment of the former O.W. Houts Property, which could be developed for academic or mixed-use purposes, Watson said.

The connection from West College Avenue would terminate at the parking deck and not allow for through travel on White Course Drive to Atherton Street. Watson said that when White Course apartments were constructed nearly 20 years ago, the borough required there be no connection from the borough’s west end to the west campus and that the borough has remained resistant to allowing that cut-through.

Watson said an estimated 75 percent of ingress and egress would be at North Atherton Street and White Course Drive. 

A traffic impact study also was initiated while the university was in session to collect accurate traffic data.

A stormwater consultant for the feasibility study looked at not only the requirements for the deck but also for the buildout of west campus to have one plan in place.

“We wouldn’t be doing this incrementally for each project,” Watson said.

The catchment area of the existing basin also would be increased to relieve pressure on adjacent stormwater areas, Watson said.

Design and construction of the parking deck is contingent on approval of projects through the university’s next capital plan beginning in July, but Watson said that as part of the College of Engineering master planning, it is “a prime candidate” to move forward.

The university hopes to hire a design-build team in July to begin working with the engineering master plan team in the fall. Final siting, access and other factors will be determined by the engineering master plan. After that, design would take place in about six to nine months, with construction likely a year later.

About the Author

Geoff Rushton (StateCollege.com)

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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