Duke Enhancing Parking Technology, Infrastructure

Upcoming improvements include new hands-free parking access

Card swipe islands currently in use will begin to be phased out at lots across Duke as part of technological investments. Installation of a new, hands-free system at parking gates will begin in February. Photo by Bryan Roth.
Card swipe islands currently in use will begin to be phased out at lots across Duke as part of technological investments. Installation of a new, hands-free system at parking gates will begin in February. Photo by Bryan Roth.

Beginning in mid-February, Duke will enter another phase in its ongoing effort to upgrade and improve parking at the University and Health System.

Construction is expected to start Feb. 10 on a new parking access system that includes new radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology for parking lot access. With this technology, a special RFID tag affixed to a vehicle will offer a hands-free mode of parking by raising a gate for a motorist without a Duke community member reaching out to swipe a permit.

Sam Veraldi, director of Parking and Transportation Services, said not only will technological upgrades create a better parking system for students, faculty and staff, but it will allow for better tracking of parking usage and behaviors, allowing Duke to tailor its resources better. Similar systems are in use at universities across the country, including Harvard University, University of Wisconsin and Texas A&M.

"We've got 28,000 permit holders and about 26,000 spaces on campus and right now, that's all we can tell you on a real-time basis," Veraldi said. "With the RFID program, we'll know how many vehicles are parked in what lot and for how long, allowing us the luxury of eventually offering programs like occasional or on-demand parking."

Construction during the first phase of the parking access project will be staggered during February and March and into the spring. The project is part of a larger effort at Duke to enhance the parking experience and upgrade technology to support transportation-related goals.

Other projects include:

  • New camera systems to provide increased safety and security across all garages.
  • Investments in a new gated lot on Hillsborough Road that will increase the number of available spaces, improve lighting and pave the lot.
  • Ongoing renovations to Parking Garage II on Erwin Road. Duke is investing $9 million to resurface driving and parking areas, add guardrails, replace light fixtures and more.
  • Future renovations to all garages.

"We are on path to address much need improvements across our parking and transportation system at Duke, ranging from deferred maintenance to technology improvements," said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration. "Each of these improvements will contribute to having a more efficient and effective strategy on how we manage parking."

The parking access/RFID project is expected to be rolled out over the next two years and will affect about 39 parking locations. The first phase of RFID technology construction will start in Feb. 10, as crews begin work at the Campus Drive Gated Lot and Trent Lot. Over March and April, work will later begin on the Law School Lot, FEL Building Lot, Science Lot and LaSalle Lot North.

As construction begins on various lots, permit holders for all affected areas will receive notices from Parking and Transportation Services about what they need to do to get an RFID tag and park.

Some construction may impact entry or exit lanes as new equipment is installed and tested, but Parking and Transportation Services will work to allow for Duke community members to use their lots. Depending on intensity of construction, some students and employees may have temporary access to alternate lots as construction takes place.

Once students and employees in affected parking areas receive an RFID tag, they'll only need to affix it to the front window of their vehicle, which allows for hands-free parking lot entry and exit. As motorists leave a parking lot, the RFID tag will alert a gate to raise its bar and allow for exit.

With the addition of real-time parking information, Parking and Transportation Services hopes to offer new types of parking options to allow for parking during specific hours during of the workweek, temporary passes and more.

"With metrics about how our lots are used, we'll be more effective in using all our spaces on campus," said Melissa Harden, director of strategies for Parking and Transportation Services. "This will be an incredible way to manage parking in a 24-7 way we've never had the ability to do."