Saturday, February 24, 2024

Climate and parking ramps

First, Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) will hold its monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 28 at 6:30 p.m. at 401 West Ave. South (also accessible online). Learn more at their website


Next, just say NO to another UWL parking ramp on March 5 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

In the pipeline for several years, the
proposed new 550-car structure will invite even more people to drive their cars to campus and do nothing to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Things are changing now with the fantastic new Sustainability Coordinator, but UWL has not done nearly enough over the past decades to hatch a comprehensive, long-term plan to reduce its overall carbon emissions. Transportation is a big part of the problem and needs to be part of the solution.

Their decision to remove the popular MTU route through campus many years ago still stands out as one of the most anti-climate moves in history. Ridership dropped when service was relegated to the edges of campus and has not recovered to this day. The wonderful UPass program which lets UWL students ride the MTU with their ID as a pass has not been pushed or well advertised. There is no transportation demand management plan or transportation advising that could help faculty and staff consider other options than driving and parking on campus. Most UWL communications about events and programs say nothing about taking the bus or encouraging car-pooling. Their only transportation information is how to pay for parking.

Now they want to convert what is currently a half-block sized surface parking lot to a 550-car structure. Millions of dollars to store cars when similar million-dollar facilities sit barely used just a 10 minute bus ride away in downtown La Crosse.

Even adding a parking ramp will probably not solve the problem until more people learn to use other transportation means. The buses (local and the regional SMRT) still go to campus. You can bike there. You can car pool to a park and ride lot. Until all other options are exhausted, this ramp should not be approved. And, studies show that when more parking is available, more people will drive!

Of course, this parking won't be free and the University will get quite a chunk of change on the taxpayer-funded facility. Could it be they are looking at parking as a revenue stream? I don't know. If so, we might think of these things as Car CAFOs with similar harms to the environment.

(Actually, what we need more of in our community is PEOPLE parking. Imagine if instead of building a car parking ramp, the city (this used to be part of a city residential block) built a multi-story 300 (or so)-person small apartment building here?)

The University needs a zoning variance to build its new car hotel. Be a climate activist and attend the next Judiciary and Advisory committee meeting at 6 p.m. on March 5 at City Hall and register or speak on item #24-0069 (get there by 5:50 if you want to speak). Put the brakes on more unneeded parking infrastructure!

Every decision made now to encourage more people to drive more cars is a wrong decision. Stop a new parking ramp and make UWL take real climate action.

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