Electronic license plate recognition among changes for those who park, drive on campus

Some changes in traffic patterns and parking to improve safety and accommodate growth on campus will greet the new semester at Western Carolina University.

One of the parking changes is a transition from the traditional hang-tag permits to an electronic license plate recognition unit that mounts to an enforcement vehicle to read vehicle license plates and ensure compliance with parking regulations, said Fred Bauknecht, WCU’s director of parking operations and transportation.

“This allows the vehicle registration process to be easier and more efficient,” Bauknecht said. “In other words, your license plate is your permit. It will also mandate no backing into parking spaces.”

The electronic license plate recognition system is being fully utilized for student parking with the start of fall semester, but for now, faculty and staff are asked to continue using their gold parking permits while also updating their license plate information online, Bauknecht said.

Other parking and traffic changes include:

  • A.K. Hinds University Center/Memorial Drive lot 31 is now metered/visitor parking.
  • Niggli Theater handicapped spaces have been relocated to the Stillwell lot 40.
  • Coulter lot 33 is now faculty and staff, although some limited spaces are temporarily blocked by construction.
  • Memorial Drive between Killian Building Lane and Buzzard’s Roost Road is closed for construction, although the closed section will temporarily reopen one way during student move-in weekend.

Signage reflects the new mandates and temporary measures, and the WCU Office of Parking and Transportation will email daily updates as needed and have produced an informational video. Both drivers and pedestrians are asked to be responsible, courteous and cautious while on campus.

Among traffic changes on campus is a section of Memorial Drive, shown in red, temporarily closed for a construction project.

“I would like to remind all those who make up the Catamount community that our campus is going to be a very busy place as the fall semester begins,” said Steve Lillard, WCU chief of police. “Students will be moving back to the area and classes will get underway, which generates a vast amount of pedestrian and vehicular traffic on our roadways. We need everyone to drive safe and obey the speed limits. University police officers will be enforcing speed violations in an effort to keep everyone safe.

“Please don’t be in a hurry to get to your destination,” Lillard said. “Allow yourself plenty of time to travel to reach your destination on time. I would also ask pedestrians to use caution when at crosswalks and to not assume that oncoming traffic will automatically stop. Obey the crossing signal when present and only cross the roadway when instructed to do so. This will aid in our efforts to prevent accidents and injuries along our streets. Remember, the WCU Police Department is a full-service agency and stands ready to assist our students, faculty, staff and visitors with any law enforcement needs they may have. And, as always, if you see something, say something.”

Additional parking areas are planned for campus, including a parking deck at a site adjacent to Hennon Baseball Stadium and a new surface lot across from Judaculla Hall. New front entrance signage is anticipated next year at the intersection of Centennial Drive and N.C. Highway 107, while pedestrian crosswalks with crossing lights were installed last year at the corner of Centennial Drive and University Way.

“It’s exciting that new parking facilities will be built to stay abreast of the needs of WCU,” Bauknecht said. “We’re in a transition, but it’s the start of campus improvements that will continue.”

For more information on parking, parking policy enforcement and campus traffic routes, contact the Office of Parking and Transportation at 828-227-7411. To contact the University Police Department during a non-emergency, call 828-227-7301. During an emergency, call 828-227-8911.