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Digging begins for Wichita State’s new residence hall

Wichita State University has a big hole in the ground.

Bulldozers and backhoes have scraped off pavement covering the lot between Morrison Hall and Cessna Stadium and dug a foundation hole, about 5 to 10 feet deep, preparing to build Wichita State’s first new residence hall in decades.

“My advice: Don’t park there,” joked WSU spokesman Joe Kleinsasser.

The loss: 750 parking spaces.

Meanwhile, construction of a new parking lot on 21st Street near Corbin Hall should be done by mid-month, Kleinsasser said. That lot will add 400 new spaces to the main campus at WSU. It will have bordering sidewalks, drainage and lighting. The lot opens the week of July 22, he said.

The net loss of 350 spaces will challenge students and faculty, who have complained about parking for years. Fall classes start Aug. 19, Kleinsasser said. University leaders are still pondering whether to develop a shuttle bus system and ask students to park at WSU’s Hughes Metropolitan Complex, a couple of miles northeast of the main campus.

“Obviously on some mornings, and during home basketball games, parking is going to get a little interesting,” Kleinsasser said. He said WSU should still have enough spaces for everyone but to expect longer walks.

The residence hall is scheduled to open in August 2014. It is part of a strategy by President John Bardo: Build a modern residence hall students can be proud of, put it near the center of campus and use it to try to recruit more students.

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