You can see your classmates now. They are sitting nervously in their seats, eyes darting from the clock to your empty chair. They are afraid for you. The room is dead silent as the professor stares at the faces. The clock bleeds seconds that turn into minutes. Much like the swift, unmerciful stroke of the executioner’s blade, the instructor’s pen glides down the roll to your name. A red dot is administered to stand for what will seem to be eternity. He rises and begins his lecture. You are officially late for class. There you sit in your car, a weary tear sliding down your face. Once again the evil parking gods have placed their will against you. You couldn’t find a parking space. Perhaps a bit dramatic, this is scene is how many students feel when dealing with Portland campus parking.

The construction of a 1,200-space parking garage has begun. Excavators digging up the pavement is causing the Portland campus to lose most of the spots in widely used Bedford Street lot. Limited parking has made driving to the Portland campus frustrating for many students. University administration has compensated for the limited parking by leasing off-campus lots from businesses and landowners. The university has leased 209 spots from Sam’s Club in Scarborough. The Portland to Gorham shuttle picks up students on its route between the two campuses. At the intersection of Forest Avenue, 15 Baxter Blvd. opened 107 spots to USM students, along with the Marginal Way lot which has shuttle buses running every 10 minutes to various areas of the Portland campus.

Also, the Gorham campus now has a beefed-up bus service consisting of two V.I.P. Charter Coaches during peak hours as opposed to one. Still, the parking crunch affected student and faculty in some way or another.

Justin Laing, environmental science and policy major, is a Gorham resident who has classes on the Portland campus twice a week. Laing drives his car. “I had a class in Portland yesterday morning and let me tell you, the parking situation is horrific,” Laing lamented.

“There are very few spots available in front of the student center. I had to park a few streets away from the science building,” said Laing.

As a result, Laing found himself late for class. “I suppose, albeit minor, the parking situation has negatively affected my education.” Laing added that while he felt the buses were a good alternative from Gorham, they would be too crowded for his liking.

Laing is not the only student disgruntled by parking in Portland. Danielle

LaChapelle, a freshman English major living in Gorham, is forced to take the bus. “I think the parking situation is ridiculous,” said LaChapelle. She felt that the parking garage was good for the University but the timing was just bad.

“I would suggest starting the construction in the summer, while the lot is not in use,” said LaChapelle.

Christine Bucknell, a resident assistant in Portland Hall, surveyed the parking on the Portland campus many times since the construction. “The parking situation in

Portland is wicked bad,” she said. Bucknell does not add to the problem, however, as she

usually takes the shuttle bus from Portland Hall and walked the mile to

campus.

“The shuttle can be pretty crowded in the morning,” stated Bucknell.

Grey Matthews is a bus driver for V.I.P. coach service from Gorham to Portland and has noticed the change. “There are a lot more [students] riding the bus.”

Matthews added, “I mean, you used to have one bus, now you have two.”

While students find themselves coping with limited parking, the University Police Department deals with delinquent parkers. When asked about any new policies or more lenient ticketing philosophies used to combat the parking insanity, student officer Amy Matuewezski said, “There is still no illegal parking.” Matuewezski said since the construction began, frustrated commuters have seen it their right to park anywhere, even in handicap spots. “We can’t allow that; it is against state law,” Matuewezski stated. “There is a lot of parking. People just don’t want to do it because of the distance. The Marginal Way lot has not been full yet.”

The school made many concessions when it comes to the parking situation.

Aside from the addition of leased lots, faculty members gave up their own lots for student use. Now students are able to park in faculty lots. As a result, some faculty members started using the bus services. The bus services are designed to help all community members bypass the parking situation while getting to classes on time.

It is just a matter of students learning the schedules and allowing themselves enough time. Aside from educating themselves on university bus services, students could try to arrive in Portland early, allowing them enough time to find or walk from a spot. Editorializing. Reshape

More information about the parking garage construction, predicted to end in December 2003, can be found on the USM Website: http://www.usm.maine.edu.

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