Contractors added two traffic control gates to the campus’ main access road during the winter break to help with the flow of inner campus traffic for those with UTEP parking permits. They will be used by many of the approximately 21,000 students expected to return to campus Jan. 22 for the spring semester.
Luna, an administrative secretary who often drives onto campus via Mesa Street and University, said she plans to leave her home a little earlier to avoid any possible delays at the new gates.
“The key is to be patient and friendly while driving and walking (on campus),” the 1999 graphic art graduate said. “Smiling always helps.”
University officials have used many forms of media to alert UTEP students, faculty and staff about these new gates near the Hilton Garden Inn at the east entrance to campus and near the University Bookstore at the west entrance to mitigate any traffic issues.
Students being dropped off at UTEP should avoid the University Avenue entrances in favor of other convenient drop-off points.
Visitors can get temporary parking passes from the community service guards at the entrance kiosks. Officials also stressed that accommodations would be made for individuals with disabilities.
The control gates are another step toward the closing of the campus core to most vehicular traffic. The next major step will begin in May when parts of University Avenue will be blocked for the construction of Centennial Plaza, a large, circular grassy area surrounded by trees and a walkway suitable for big campus and community events such as the annual Minerpalooza back-to-school kickoff.
The new entry systems will create a safer and more secure campus, but it will take time for everyone to get comfortable with how things work, said UTEP Police Chief Cliff Walsh.
“UTEP Police will assist the Parking and Transportation staff to facilitate the adoption of this change,” he said. “We strongly suggest that people begin their commute to UTEP a little earlier than usual as everyone becomes accustomed to the new entrance procedures and that they exercise patience while driving around campus.”
Junior nursing student Abiodun Ambali said her husband will drop her off near the transit center, but she wondered how many students will be late for classes the first week or two.
“It will take awhile to get used to, but students are adaptable,” said Ambali, who works as a student assistant at the Union’s Information Center.
Other projects that will impact traffic flow around campus this semester include construction of Wiggins Plaza in front of the University Library, and a Texas Department of Transportation effort to connect Paisano Drive and Schuster Avenue via a bridge over Interstate 10.
For the latest on Campus Transformation, visit onthemove.utep.edu.
To see the Miner Metro routes, click on the “Campus Shuttles” link at parking.utep.edu.
Daniel Perez is a senior writer in UTEP's Office of University Communications.