By Kristine Bjork
Hospital Ramp 2—the parking garage located directly in front of the hospital—is now being demolished as part of the health care campus master plan, which includes the new UI Children’s Hospital.
The loss of one parking ramp has meant a reassignment of many parking spaces for faculty and staff and for the public. Hospital Ramps 1, 3, and 4 will be used primarily for patient parking, while more than 500 staff parking assignments have been dispersed to nearby surface lots until a new underground parking ramp is completed for patients and families.
“It is essential that we keep patient safety and patient parking proximity as our top priority,” says George Mejias, director of capital management for UI Hospitals and Clinics.
Much has been done to keep staff interim parking reassignments as close to UI Hospitals and Clinics as possible, including the addition of two surface lots: one just south of Melrose Avenue and the other just north of Kinnick Stadium.
“We know these projects and inevitable disruptions will require a great deal of patience from our visitors and staff, but the impact and benefit of these changes will be monumental to the mission of UI Hospitals and Clinics and transform the health care campus as we know it,” Mejias adds.
The university purchased and demolished nine houses to build the new surface lot just south of 711 Melrose Ave. They also kept intact and moved a historic red barn on the site.
Dave Ricketts, director of UI Parking and Transportation, stresses that the changes are being made with patients in mind, and he adds that parking will improve.
“We acknowledge we had to move some people who have worked for the hospital for a very long time. We know it has been disruptive and difficult for people, and we appreciate people having a good spirit about it,” he says.
Deconstructing a parking ramp
Destruction of the ramp is timely and methodical; rather than imploding the structure or knocking it down with a wrecking ball, crews are deconstructing the ramp’s 800 slabs of concrete one at a time.
It takes about an hour for crews to remove and crush each slab, which means the demolition, which is already underway, will be about a three-month process. The slabs are being crushed and recycled for use in future roadways, and the metal rebar in each piece will also be recycled. By regulation, demolition crews must recycle at least 75 percent of the material that comes down.
Hospital Ramp 2 will be replaced with four levels of underground parking, which is set for completion in the spring of 2015. It will contain 652 spots, approximately the same number as the old Ramp 2. A new glass skyway sits less than 10 feet from the north end of the ramp, making the dismantling of Ramp 2 even more of a challenge. This skyway crosses over Hawkins Drive to Hospital Ramp 3 and the recently opened West Campus Transportation Center (WCTC).
In the meantime, Hospital Ramp 4 and its adjoining parking structure have been updated. The number of parking spots has increased from 756 to 1,004 spaces for patient parking. Ricketts admits it has been challenging to provide the best parking for patients in this ramp, dealing with a complicated structure and about 1,000 cars that use the ramp every day. Designers had to change the configuration of the ramp, re-route traffic, move cashier booths, and install new signage, requiring a great deal of coordination between the university and UI Hospitals and Clinics.
Where to park? See map.
- Hospital Ramp 1: Easy access to Elevators A through D from the northwest end of the hospital. This includes Boyd Tower, General Hospital, and the Fountain Entrance. For patients and visitors only (no UI Health Care staff).
- Hospital Ramp 3: For patients, visitors, and UI Health Care staff, easy access to Elevators D through H. Located just north of Kinnick Stadium, a new skyway connects Ramp 3 on Level 3 to the Main Hospital Entrance on Level 2. A PAT mobile (Personal Assisted Transportation vehicle) is available for patient transport through the skyway.
- Hospital Ramp 4: Easy access to Elevators I through M from the southeast side of the hospital, including Pappajohn Pavilion and Pomerantz Family Pavilion. For patients and visitors only (no UI Health Care staff).
outh Hospital Drive and the Field House
During construction of the new UI Children’s Hospital, more patients will park in Ramp 4, and the south end of the hospital will serve as a primary entrance. These two factors will increase traffic along South Hospital Drive.
To improve traffic flow and alleviate congestion on Melrose Avenue, South Hospital Drive, which currently dead-ends at the Field House and the north side of Ramp 4, will be extended to merge with South Grand Avenue (see video).
Although a portion of the Field House will be torn out to accommodate the rerouting of South Hospital Drive, this project will not significantly affect operations of the Field House. An overhead passageway will connect the original Field House to the South Gym basketball courts. The original brick structure will not be altered, and the original pool will remain intact. A new entrance will be added on the west side of the building facing the hospital, just north of Hospital Ramp 4. The Field House main entrance will return to the east side of the building.
In the long-term master plan for the hospital complex, this new street, along with the eventual addition of another east-west passage toward the north end of the complex, will both be important parts to the future traffic flow.
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