Cynthia Matson, vice president for administration/CFO at Fresno State, issued the following message to the campus community about a parking-lot reconstruction project under way during the summer break:

The life of a dynamic campus includes making changes to meet new needs. One growing need – repeatedly identified by campus and community groups – is for more parking. Unfortunately when it comes to parking, there often is no “best” solution to accommodate the needs of students (our largest parking user group), faculty, staff and visitors.

The parking program operations and lots are completely funded by fees and fines. No general fund support is provided. With the declining enrollment and lack of parking fee increases from faculty and staff, revenues have been insufficient, leading to deferred maintenance in many of the lots. Some lots have significantly deteriorated and the lots in the poorest conditions desperately need repair.

The original parking plan contemplated a parking structure in this area. However a more-economical solution was necessary to minimize the parking fee increase to our students. Therefore, lots are being repaired and expanded, where practical, in lieu of a parking structure.

Our current parking project addresses two critical issues: the need for more student parking and the need to improve safety in parking lots. In the construction project under way this summer in Lots A, J and UBC on the east side of the Peters Business Building, we are adding more spaces, replacing trees and improving lighting and security.

The $4 million project, funded through student parking fees, is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 15, just before the start of the 2012-13 academic year. Construction and maintenance projects across campus typically are scheduled during the summer and winter breaks to cause the least disruption to students as possible.

While short-term impacts of tree removal, traffic redirection, and temporary closure of parking lots are disruptive, long-term benefits of the project are important for students, faculty, staff and the community. The lots provide close access to the University Business Center and the Joyal Administration, Conley Art, Peters Business and Science buildings.

Safety was a top priority in designing the new space. The previous design of the three lots posed many public safety challenges. Thoughtful placement of 150 new trees is designed to provide unobstructed line of sight for five security cameras. Five emergency phones also will be placed within the new parking lot.

The three lots, which currently have a combined 1,357 spaces, will become one contiguous lot with approximately 1,900 spaces aligned in an easy-to-navigate, two-way traffic access pattern throughout. Several dry ponding basins will be removed. The project also includes road and intersection improvements around the area.

An extra-wide walkway will be constructed to connect the lot with the existing walkway south of the Peters Building. This follows the Campus Master Plan vision of connecting the east and west sides of campus with a continuous pedestrian thoroughfare.

While 160 trees were removed, 150 trees will be planted within the lot. Trees will remain around the perimeter. Plans call for planting Chinese pistache trees, chosen for their vivid fall colors and high canopy (helping security camera views), and other tree varieties.

Some of the trees removed were diseased, but healthy crape myrtles were uprooted and saved. Trees that were removed were mulched for future use throughout campus.

The project is on a tight deadline that required coordination of funding with completion by the beginning of the fall semester to minimize disruption. American Paving Co. is the contractor.

Discussions of Lots A and J and the proposed financing were held with the President’s Student Lunch Group, Campus Planning Committee, Student Fee Advisory Committee and the Academic Senate’s Facilities and Campus Environment Liaison Committee.

When complete, the project brings the total number of parking spaces on campus to 8,280.

Progress reports on the project will be posted at