This setting is picturesque, but there are challenges to ensuring campus paths and parking lots are accessible to everyone. The University is working on a new comprehensive accessibility transition plan, and work recently completed by UW Facilities and its contractors at the N22 parking lot illustrates the impact positive changes can make.
The N22 lot sits alongside Stevens Way just north of the HUB and is used both for disabled parking and electric vehicle charging.
“In addition to the re-allocation of ADA parking to this lot from other less accessible parking lots, the project is updating portions of campus access routes in the area,” says Bree Callahan, UW’s ADA/Section 504 coordinator. “But no matter where they park, people will be able to reach a campus access route to get to a building.”
The end result, which opened this week, includes 27 ADA-compliant parking stalls, UCAR electric vehicle charging stations, reserved stalls for Hall Health patients, and 30 minute load and unload stalls.
Another accessibility improvement is a new raised crosswalk from N22 to Hall Health, providing a flush, clearly marked path across Stevens Way. The crosswalk will feature tactile warning strips on both ends — these are textured, raised “dots” that are detectable by the visually impaired.
The improvements provide vital connections on campus, says Environmental and Land Use Planner Julie Blakeslee. “We are building ADA-accessible parking and pathways to programs in the HUB, Communications, Padelford, Hall Health and the UW Club.”
The project has environmental improvements as well. N22 is the first UW parking lot to be built with permeable concrete, which helps reduce runoff and flooding.
Combining that with the accessibility requirements wasn’t always easy, according to Steve Harrison, a project manager for UW Facilities. “Making the grading and flatness of concrete pours compliant with ADA requirements as measured using a short digital level was extremely challenging,” he says. But he adds, “These lot improvements were necessary and the design is attractive, so the upgrade is worthwhile.”
The high porosity of permeable concrete allows precipitation to pass directly through it, mimicking natural ground absorption. Pollutants are also kept in place in the material beneath the lot, preventing heavy metals from entering delicate ecosystems, thus supporting green, sustainable growth.
The landscaping in N22 will also be entirely new, says University Landscape Architect Kristine Kenney.
“The planting for the parking lot is fairly simple. The plants were selected based on their ability to withstand the harsh environment of a parking lot, while tying into the surrounding plants in the area. There will be flowering dogwoods and larger canopy trees interspersed with low-growing shrubs and simple groundcover,” Kenney says.
Because N22 and the HUB are such focal points, the summer’s construction required several pedestrian and vehicle detours. While N22 is now open, one last pedestrian detour is still in effect as work continues on the pathways around it.
This work includes pedestrian improvements on the path between N22 and Communications, as well as pathway improvements in front of Hall Health. Therefore, pedestrian routes on both sides of Stevens Way will be impacted through November. Also as part of this detour, the bus stop on the west side of Stevens Way has temporarily been moved 100 feet north.
Longer term, the University has committed to ensuring 77 parking facilities are ADA-compliant over the course of the next 15 years. Thirty five of these lots will be completed by September 2020 and 43 completed in the next five years.