Enhancements underway for campus garages

Painter Rick Heacock, of Bazan Painting Co., applies a coat of white paint to the ceiling in the Millbrook Parking Facility on July 9. Crews are repainting the Millbrook and Snow Way garages this summer to make them more user-friendly. (Credit: Joe Angeles)

If you thought it seemed brighter when you parked your car in a campus garage this morning, you may be right.

Parking and Transportation Services at Washington University in St. Louis is working on enhancements to the parking garages around campus this summer and next.

This summer, the focus is on the Millbrook and Snow Way parking facilities, and those on the South 40 area of campus will get their turn in 2014. A key upgrade is painting the walls, ceilings and columns white to better reflect light, a simple and cost-effective adjustment that makes it easier for motorists to see in the garages.

Crews also are painting the stairwells and adjacent ceilings green to designate where people can exit the garage after parking their vehicles. Additionally, the ceilings or columns near the blue-light emergency phones – which connect people directly to the WUSTL police if needed – are being painted blue so they’re easier to spot from afar. Some blue-light phones will be relocated, and more will be added, in the garages also. Additional closed-circuit television equipment to more thoroughly monitor activity in the Millbrook garage also will be installed as part of the enhancements.

While they’re being done over time, each garage ultimately will follow the same color scheme so motorists know what to expect and what the various colors signify, explained Nicholas Stoff, director of Parking and Transportation Services.

Stoff said WUSTL wanted to improve the parking experience for the university community and for campus visitors.

Workers also plan to install brighter and more efficient light fixtures as part of the upgrades. Compact fluorescent bulbs are being replaced with LED lights, which will make the garages brighter. While LED lights cost more on the front end, they’re expected to pay for themselves over the life of the fixtures. Among other things, they use less energy and will require replacement only every 10-15 years, lowering maintenance costs, explained Ryan Lynch, project manager for the garage improvements.

The Danforth University Center’s underground garage is the newest and most navigable on campus, and operations staff are working to bring other garages to that standard, explained Steve Hoffner, associate vice chancellor for operations.

“We are looking to provide an environment that offers enhanced safety and improved functionality,” Hoffner said.

Painting began in the Millbrook garage in early July, and parking officials hope to have painting done in both the Millbrook and Snow Way garages before students arrive on campus for Move-In Day on Aug. 22. The lighting upgrades will begin around early September and be completed as soon as supplies and staff time allow, Lynch said.