Grand Center Ramp May Have Two Entrances

May 3, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS – A few of the concerns that the Parking Services Department had about the proposed Grand Center parking ramp may have been eased slightly. The city department was concerned about the ramp having only one entrance and that the entrance itself would be too steep.

The ramp’s entrance was initially designed with a 14-degree slope, as Parking Services Director Ted Perez noted at the last Parking Commission meeting. But that sharp angle has been reduced a tad since Perez last saw the design plan.

Dale Sommers, who is co-managing the construction of the $200 million Grand Center expansion and renovation project, said the entrance slope was changed after the design team met with Parking Services.

“The slope has definitely been changed to something less than 14 degrees, and that was based on the architects having a meeting with Ted Perez and his staff,” said Sommers.

“The maximum slope is 14 percent. It’s a variable-slope ramp going from 8 percent to 14 percent, and that’s well within the range,” said Bob Daverman of Progressive AE, who is co-designing the expansion project.

Daverman explained that the percent and degree of a slope are two different things. As an example, he estimated that the entrance to the new ramp will have a slope of about 12 degrees.

“It’s comparable to the Ottawa (Avenue) entrance into the Government Center parking ramp in terms of the slope. It’s very comparable to that,” he said of the redesigned entrance to the new Grand Center ramp.

Perez, who was away from the office and unavailable for comment last week, told parking commissioners that a 14-degree slope would make for the steepest entrance and exit in all of the city’s ramps.

Another concern Perez had was that the ramp would have only one entrance and it was located behind the building, meaning that it could only be accessed from Bridge Street just before it magically becomes Michigan Street at the Monroe intersection.

Perez was worried that traffic congestion might increase there because visitors from the east, north and south would all have to make a left turn to reach the ramp. He also said the entrance wouldn’t be visible from the front of the building, and that a second entrance would only be added if the ramp is expanded past its required number of spaces.

Sommers said a second entrance is planned once the Welsh Auditorium is made into the center’s Grand Ballroom, which is set for the project’s final building stage. Access to it will be off Lyon Street. Until then, the ramp will have a single entrance.

“There will be a short period of time from the end of 2003 until the Welsh is done, the end of 2004, when there will only be that one entrance in and out,” said Sommers.

But the second entrance will only be built if the ramp ends up with about 700 spaces. For that to happen, about 200 spaces have to be added to the ramp’s south end.

“In essence, that’s pretty true. That is linked to phase three of the project, the Welsh Ballroom construction. It’s a part of that condition,” said Daverman.

“So in phase two, you would have, simplistically, just the one ingress-egress out of it. It’s not to say that we couldn’t design something if phase three is postponed for some period of time,” he added.

Right now, Daverman said the plan is to add those 200 spaces and the second entrance. If the extra spaces get deleted from the project for some reason, Daverman said another way in and out of the ramp could be easily added.

“We can always design that,” he said.

The Grand Center will remain open for business during construction, and Parking Services will operate the ramp when it opens.

The new parking ramp will be built underneath the convention facility and is required to have 512 spaces. As it has been designed, Daverman said it will have 679 spaces, with 18 of those set aside for van-accessible, barrier-free parking. The current ramp is scheduled to be razed by September.           

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