Limited parking on campus limits options for commuters

by Savannah Eller | 4/18/19 2:00am


Parking on campus is relatively limited, causing troubles for commuters to campus.

by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

The limited amount of parking spaces on campus has affected daily commuters to campus, some of whom live significant distances from Hanover. For staff members, this paucity results in a more complicated commute. For members of Dartmouth’s faculty, this issue can lead to fewer office hours and more instances of working from home. A new construction project begun by the College in January is seeking to address these concerns by building the first parking garage on Dartmouth’s campus. 

“Core campus parking is very tight,” said David Newlove, the associate vice president overseeing transportation and parking services at the College. “Basically, if you get here by [8 a.m.], there’s no parking for you.” 

Instead, many faculty and staff park in one of several lots on the periphery of campus. To the north, the Dewey, Maynard, Gillman and three other lettered lots serve those with green or tan parking permits, while the Thompson and Ledyard lots take overflow parking in the south and west of campus, respectively. Each large lot is at least a 10-minute walk to the center of campus.

The College also has small parking lots scattered throughout campus for green permit holders, though these spots often fill quickly during peak commute hours, according to Newlove. As the most expensive option for faculty and staff, the green permit does allow drivers to park closer to central campus in lots like Massachusetts, Channing Cox and Cummings. One of the most notable exceptions to these lots is the reserving of spots for senior administrators, such as the lots for the president and provost next to Parkhurst. 

James Muirhead, chair of the government department at Dartmouth, said the relative lack of parking is having a detrimental effect on the availability of professors to their students. According to Muirhead, younger faculty who live farther from campus must choose whether to spend time parking and walking to their offices each day or to work and do research from home. 

“The cost of entering their offices can be just high enough that they decide to work from home,” Muirhead said. 

With professors spending less time on campus, students have less access to office hours and meetings, Muirhead said, adding that it would best to incentivize professors to work out of their offices as much as possible. 

Students with cars on campus face a similar problem finding affordable, convenient parking. Grant Larson ’21, who parks daily in A lot, said he pays around $80 per term for a spot that put him 15 minutes away from the core of campus, something he calls “frustrating.” 

Chris Bacotti ’20 said he used to have a car on campus but brought it home last year when a friend moved out of an apartment where he had allowed Bacotti to park for free. He said he would have kept his car on campus if he had better parking options.

“I wasn’t going to pay for A lot,” he said. 

Like Bacotti, many students choose to park in private lots on or near campus. Fraternities offer permit parking in their lots for an unregulated fee, according to Newlove. Local fraternity Chi Gamma Epsilon, for example, is located on Webster Avenue and charges $400 per spot during the spring term.

At perhaps the greatest disadvantage in finding parking are commuters who work or study in the campus’ West End, where there are few spaces, according to Newlove. The College is trying to remedy this issue in the coming years by building a new 340-space parking garage in the area. The garage will be located under a new building which will be shared by the Thayer School of Engineering, the computer science department and the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship. Newlove said the College hopes to have the garage open in 2021. 

“We need parking that is close to where people work and go to school,” he said. 

Judith Esmay, chairwoman of the Hanover Planning Board — the town regulatory committee that approved the West End project — said she thought the new garage might also bring some relief to traffic in downtown Hanover as more commuters are diverted from the main roads going in and out of the College. 

“We were certainly persuaded that it will assist in the flow of traffic downtown,” Esmay said. 

Esmay said overflow parking from the College is a burden on Hanover’s economy, taking parking spaces away from customers downtown. 

“It does have an effect on business because people do expect to be able to park close to the store or office that they are visiting, and if they cannot, then business very well might fall off,” she said. 

Muirhead said more will have to be done in the future to address parking on campus, including adding more parking garages. 

“Everywhere, colleges and universities have had to invest in a parking infrastructure,” he said.