ST. PETERSBURG — Homework isn’t the only thing giving USF St. Petersburg students a headache at the start of the spring semester. Construction around campus has tied up entrances to the school’s main parking garage, and permanently closed public parking spaces near the student center.
The city of St. Petersburg is replacing a 30-inch sewer line around the campus, and construction should be completed before the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, an IndyCar Series race through the streets surrounding the university scheduled for March 28-30. The project has changed traffic patterns throughout the area, but perhaps the biggest impact is the permanent removal of metered street parking spaces along Sixth Avenue South and the blocked entrances to the university’s parking garage and parking lots 2 and 5 next to the Science and Technology Building, USF St. Petersburg spokesman Tom Scherberger said.
The university sent emails to students about the changes and posted announcements on its website, Scherberger said. Thus far, there haven’t been any major accidents related to the construction, though the many pedestrians and bicyclists around the area are being cautioned to remain alert.
“We were a bit worried because we closed for the holidays, and then when people came back Monday the road patterns had changed so dramatically,” Scherberger said. “I don’t think it has caused a major problem, but students have to know that crosswalks have been effected so it may take some more time to get around.”
Until construction is finished, street parking along Sixth Avenue South, between Third and First streets, is prohibited. Vehicles traveling east on Sixth Avenue South may not turn left into the parking garage, and vehicles exiting the garage may only turn right. Anyone using the garage is strongly encouraged to use the Fifth Avenue South entrance, Scherberger said.
Vehicles traveling west on Sixth Avenue South may not turn left into parking lots 2 and 5, and vehicles exiting the parking lots may only turn right. The city also intermittently will close Third Street South between Sixth and Eight avenues, rerouting traffic to Fourth Street. That closure will mainly affect vehicles heading to Harbor Hall or the Piano Man Building.
U-turns are prohbited in the construction zone.
Students returned to campus dorms Sunday after a three-week break, which went “very smoothly,” Scherberger said. After the Grand Prix, the city plans to replace the area that once held public parking spaces with more landscaping and pedestrian walkways.
However, Scherberger said even if more people decide to park in USF’s spaces, where parking without a permit can land a $30 to $275 ticket, there should be plenty of room for students.
“We have quite a few parking places, especially for a college campus where parking often is very tight,” Scherberger said.