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Parking problems at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will get some relief next year. Plans to construct a parking garage on campus are moving forward, according to Dr. Ray Authement, UL Lafayette president.

“ This project is another part of the construction boom that’s been continuous for the last decade at the university,” said Authement. “It’s an indicator that the university is addressing the needs of a growing campus. A parking garage is a necessity for students as well as visitors to campus.”

With its location at the corner of St. Mary Boulevard and Taft Street, the $6 million garage will be convenient to students as well as visitors to the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, the Alumni Center and the UL Lafayette Foundation.

The four-story garage will include 417 parking spots. Construction should begin next month with completion expected near August 2007.

“ The bid date was May 23 and it normally takes about a month to sign a contract after the bid date,” said Bill Crist, Physical Plant director at UL Lafayette. “We expect to sign a construction contract around July 1.”

The design phase of the project took a little longer than expected, said Crist. The culprit behind the delay was rising construction costs following last year’s hurricane season.

“ The architect had to redesign the facility several times to keep the price as low as he did,” said Crist.

The project is totally student-funded. In 2002, students voted to pay an extra $25 per fall and spring semester to generate funding. The project will cover most of the green space where the marching band practices. A small portion will remain as a practice field.

The garage is part of a decade-long boom that saw the construction of a new home for the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration in Moody Hall along with apartment-style housing on campus with Legacy Park and the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum. In addition, a new home for the nationally-ranked Computer Science Department and the Center for Advanced Computer Studies is being constructed where McNapsy Stadium once stood.

Other projects include a proposed annex of Fletcher Hall next to the new Computer Science building to accommodate the growing College of the Arts. Burke-Hawthorne Hall will also be enlarged and renovated. A two-story wing is expected to be built between Burke-Hawthorne and Judice-Rickels halls. Another one-story wing will be added to the backstage area of the Burke Theater.

The biggest upcoming project is the renovation and possible expansion of the Student Union on McKinley Street. This project is expected to fill in the green space between McLaurin Gym and Guillory Hall. Saucier clinic is expected to be demolished and incorporated into the Student Union.

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