December 17, 2004

Garage expansion plans set to bring parking relief

Featured Image

Construction gets under way in January to connect the VUH and TVC parking garages. As part of the multi-phase parking improvement project, the street known as Dixie Place will be permanently closed.
photo by Dana Johnson

Garage expansion plans set to bring parking relief

Construction of the link between the Vanderbilt University Hospital garage and the The Vanderbilt Clinic garage will begin in January, paving the way for an additional 112 spaces when completed later in 2005, said Ken Browning, director of Plant Services for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The “link” project is the first phase of a parking expansion between 21st Avenue South and 22nd Avenue South that by the end of 2006 will see the addition of more than 800 new spaces to the area.

“These expansion plans present a short-term challenge,” Browning said. “But after we get through the rough times, we'll have some clear sailing.”

Increased use of valet parking and additional people directing traffic will help ease people through the tight times, Browning said.

Phase one of the parking expansion, the one that will begin next month, will result in one long garage across from the hospital and clinic that spans Dixie Place, which will be permanently closed.

“Eventually, a patient will be able to pull into the Hospital garage and drive all the way down into what is now the Clinic garage, and be able to get to any of clinical areas along 22nd without having to get back on the street,” said Gene Ornes, director of VUMC's Office of Traffic and Parking. “Ease and simplicity of the parking process are our ultimate goals.”

Phase two, planned to begin in about a year, will involve the demolition of Medical Center South and the extension of the garage over the space occupied by that building.

Phase two will take about a year as well, so in about two years, the parking landscape will be much better along the corridor fronting the hospital and clinic.

“All of this is part of a long-range plan geared to handle future parking needs for our patients and patient visitors, as well as faculty, staff and medical students,” Ornes said.

“These plans are directly dependent and responsive to the long range plans of the Medical Center — a continual and on-going projection process.”

Browning and Ornes noted several other changes in parking that are under way or planned for the next few months:

• 150 spaces have been cleared in the 25th Avenue garage by requiring construction personnel to park in a Vanderbilt-owned surface lot on Chestnut Street.

• Some staff and faculty who currently park in the Hospital and Clinic garages will relocate to other locations to assure adequate parking for patients and families.

• Four new replacement buses will go into service in January 2005 as older vehicles are pulled from service. And, beginning in January, all new buses will be lift-equipped, meaning that by next month people who use wheelchairs can choose any of the VUMC parking options. Next summer, four more buses will be replaced with larger buses to handle increasing demand. These vehicles will also be lift equipped.

• The Medical Center shuttle lot will have its capacity increased to almost 1,800 cars. This expansion is projected to be complete by late summer.

• Several blue light emergency phones will be added to the 25th Avenue garage in January.

• Enhanced lighting along the streets between the 25th Avenue garage and the Medical Center will be in place by January.

• A new vehicle exit from the South garage onto Children's Way, which should cut down on backups at peak times, is under construction.

• A new entrance and exit to the VUH garage, opening onto 22nd Avenue South, will be constructed to replace the one lost by the closing of Dixie Place. A restoration and repaving of the VUH garage is also currently under way, and will proceed 50 parking places at a time for several weeks.