- Associated Press - Sunday, April 6, 2014

BEND, Ore. (AP) - Planners of the new Oregon State University-Cascades campus hope they can discourage students from driving to class by building a small number of parking spaces.

University officials want to reduce the number of auto trips with an eye toward sustainability and neighborliness, but critics worry students will end up parking on nearby residential streets and in commercial parking lots.

The campus plans to build just 300 parking spots for a site that will eventually host 1,900 students.

University officials and their traffic consultants say many students will live close enough to walk or bike to campus, and the availability of lockers and showers can help make those viable options. They say they’re working with the local transit agency to increase bus service to the area and with Central Oregon Community College to create a shuttle between the campuses.

Students living on campus will be prohibited from bringing cars.

“We’re not just expecting everything to fall in place, we’re going to work on this and make sure the options available to students are abundantly clear and enticing,” Kelly Sparks, associate vice president for finance and strategic planning, told the Bend Bulletin (http://bit.ly/1hQL5BT).

Traffic engineers from Kittelson & Associates estimate about 20 percent of campus users currently live within walking distance of the campus, and that with the university’s encouragement, around 15 percent could walk. Roughly 30 percent of the campus population lives within biking distance, and the firm estimates around 15 percent could routinely bike.

Cascades East Transit could serve 10 percent of the campus population, the experts estimated.

To instill other habits, the university is looking at incentives, such as free bus passes, and hosting a small fleet of about 10 flex cars available for students who need to make a car trip.

“To reduce the number of trips, you have to create an environment that supports it,” said Matt Kittelson, an engineer with Kittelson & Associates.

The 300 parking spots would create a ratio of about 0.16 spots for every student. At the University of California-Merced and Northern Arizona University, two schools OSU-Cascades identified as “like universities,” the ratios are just above 0.4 spots for every student, according to a report by OSU-Cascades’ campus expansion advisory committee. However, at the University of Oregon, the ratio is 0.08.

At a public meeting in late March attended by about 200, Truth in Site, a group opposed to the university’s proposed location in southwest Bend, characterized the number of parking spaces as inadequate.

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Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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