UI Hospital parking ramp construction underway


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Slab-by-slab, workers continue to carefully demolish the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics parking ramp 2 in the day-to-day commotion of the Health Science Campus.

In an effort to continue running the hospital smoothly, UI officials have built a surface lot on Melrose Avenue, tearing down nine houses in the process.

The university had previously owned eight of the houses on Melrose Avenue. To build the surface lot, the university purchased the ninth house, UI spokesman Tom Moore said.

Yet, despite reassurance from UI officials that dislocated staff and patients are being considered, some feel it’s not enough.

Maria Conzemius, who has been an orthopedic patient at UIHC for several years, said she believes that the construction is inconsiderate and dangerous.

“We orthopedic patients tend to be boomers, and they’ve turned the area we have to cross to get to the hospital into a minefield,” Conzemius said. “There is snow, ice, and all these orange construction pylons.”

The demolition of parking ramp 2 began Jan. 2, and it is scheduled for completion in late March. Tom Moore said the project is on schedule.

The current structure is too close to the new skyway to be demolished with a wrecking ball or explosives, Moore said. In addition, all of the removed steel rebar and concrete is being recycled.
“They keep on changing the traffic and signs,” said Anh Ngo, a student who works at the Acute Care Pharmacy. “It doesn’t affect people who work there as much, but it is confusing for patients and visitors.”

The demolition is the first step to creating a new four-story, underground parking facility that will eventually compliment the planned UI Children’s Hospital, still in its earliest planning stages.

The final product is designed to work in tandem with the Children’s Hospital, which will be 14 stories, including two underground levels.

The new ramp will have 652 spots, a similar number as the old ramp. A new outdoor terrace will be built on the surface.

“I think it’s great that we’re going to gain a similar number of parking spots, but at the same time we are creating new green space. It’ll be nice for staff, patients, and visitors of the hospital,” said Jason Miller, the project’s construction manager.

Moore said they are reserving remaining spots in ramps 1, 2, and 4 for hospital visitors as part of the effort to relieve the congested parking situation.

“People who usually parked in ramp 2 have to park in ramp 1 now, and it’s much more congested,” Ngo said.

The ramp is scheduled to open in January 2015.

“Faculty and staff understand that the top priority is to reduce inconvenience for visitors and patients to the greatest extent possible,” Moore said.

Despite the plans to eventually improve the hospital in the long run, Conzemius feels the construction is hindering.

“They are constantly building and changing the UIHC, so to say ‘eventually,’ when it’s constantly shifting and changing, you don’t know when ‘eventually’ is going to be,” she said.

Conzemius describes problems with point-of-access for patients, and says she’s seen long lines of people in her visits to the UIHC.

“I see pregnant women and injured people limping across the icy snowy area, where it’s difficult to walk,” she said. “It seems monumentally insensitive.”

UI officials continue to urge patients and visitors to be patient.

“The important thing is to allow adequate time and travel,” Moore said.

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