Mt. SAC Begins Long Awaited Parking Structure

(Photo Courtesy:  Jill Dolan) Students have taken to parking on curbs, islands, and anywhere they can find a spot while waiting for the new parking structure to manifest.

(Photo Courtesy: Jill Dolan)
Students have taken to parking on curbs, islands, and anywhere they can find a spot while waiting for the new parking structure to manifest.

Staff Reports

Walnut – After more than 13 years of planning, Mt. San Antonio College has begun work on a new $48.5 million parking structure that will provide an additional 1,650 parking spaces, and will help alleviate one of the top complaints of students at the Walnut campus – parking.

“The new parking structure will address Mt. SAC’s current needs for student parking while preparing the college for the future,” said college President, Bill Scroggins.

Located on the northwestern edge of the campus on the site of what is currently a parking lot, the new parking structure will provide badly needed student parking for a campus that served 54,000 students last year. Currently, there are a little over 7,200 parking spaces at the college, while the maximum number of students on campus at any given time is just over 9,500. According to enrollment projections, the structure should provide enough parking for students until at least 2025.

(Photo Courtesy: Jill Dolan)

(Photo Courtesy: Jill Dolan)

“Regardless of the time of day, it is very difficult to find parking on campus, but it’s especially difficult during the mornings,” said Chris Nguyen, Mt. SAC’s Student Body President. “This parking structure will make sure that every student will be able to find a parking space.”
At peak periods during the first two weeks of the fall and spring semesters, students park along red curbs and drive in circles to find parking. This is despite Foothill Transit bus passes that have been provided at no cost to students for nearly two years as an introduction to the Class Pass program.
Throughout the 13 years of project planning, the college has made every effort to address possible concerns while adhering to the mandates of the State Architect’s Office.

“We’ve tried to mitigate any of the possible issues with the parking structure. We’ve done each of the required steps in terms of environmental impact, traffic studies, construction design, and approval by the state,” Scroggins said.

During the planning stages of the project, Mt. SAC and the City of Walnut worked together. Mt. SAC staff met with the City planning and engineering staff, and in 2007 presented a plan for the structure to the college’s Board of Trustees. The college also submitted environmental impact reports to the City, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act as early as 2002. The reports were then updated in 2005, 2008, and 2012. The California Division of the State Architect made the final decision to approve the parking structure.

The parking structure will take advantage of the hillside contours. It will be five levels on the west side and decrease to only two levels on the east side to protect neighboring residents’ sightlines. It will provide 2,085 spaces. Because it will be built on an existing lot with 435 spaces, the total addition of spaces is 1,650. Temporary Lot M was developed to ease the loss of spaces during construction.

The parking structure location is ideal for students, giving them easy access to classes and student support services. This will reduce the need for students to drive in circles to find a spot in prime lots.
The intersection of Grand Avenue and Mountaineer Road was designed to meet higher traffic levels than it accommodates today. Traffic to the parking structure is expected to generally flow in the opposite direction of traffic from the neighboring homes. During peak periods at the start of semesters, the intersection is forecasted to experience a 10 second increase in wait times. During the rest of the year, the intersection is expected to be much as it is today.

Construction of the parking structure will be conducted in two phases. The first phase includes preparations, such as demolition, underground utility improvements, and earthwork. The second phase – slated to begin this July – entails the actual construction. The parking structure is expected to be finished and ready for use by Jan. 2017.

The parking structure and its related projects, including the addition of a bike lane and Temporary Lot M, will be paid for through Measure RR funds; Mt. SAC’s $353 million facilities bond passed by voters in 2008.