SALT LAKE CITY — Just in time for the fall semester, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has completed a much-needed three-level, 656-stall parking garage immediately east of its Salt Lake University Institute of Religion building located near the University of Utah campus. Construction of the parking garage comes on the heels of the Church’s completion of the new 114,500-square-foot institute building.

” The parking structure is unique because it was designed to not only be functional but add to the beauty of the campus,” H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the Church, said. “The result is a covered parking garage that perfectly complements the existing buildings.”

The new parking facility will serve both the institute of religion and the university, as well as TRAX commuters using a newly added stop adjacent to the building.

” This structure is a great asset to the LDS Church Education System, to the university and to the community as a whole,” university President J. Bernard Machen said. “The university, institute students and faculty, Huntsman Special Events Center patrons, and commuters will all welcome these new parking spaces.”

The lower level of the structure is available for institute of religion parking, the middle level will be split between university parking and TRAX patrons, and the top level will be reserved for university parking. The entire parking structure will be available on weekends to those attending Church meetings in nearby facilities.

” This structure was key to the success of the proposal to extend light rail to the Health Sciences Center,” Machen said. “The designated ‘park and ride’ spaces within the garage will accommodate commuters throughout the valley. As a result more people will use mass transit, which, in turn, helps relieve the city’s traffic and parking congestion.”

The parking structure features a total of 656 nine-foot wide parking spaces with two separate entrances, one of which is adjacent to the new TRAX stop. Emergency phones will also be located throughout the garage.

” The facility was made possible because of the positive cooperative relationship between the University of Utah and the Church,” Burton said. A shared-use agreement for the new parking structure will allow the university to lease two of the three levels for at least the next 25 years.

During the lease period, the university will be responsible for operating and maintaining the structure, with the Church and the university sharing proportionately in operations and maintenance expenses. The university will also provide security services.

” The university is very pleased with the lease agreement for the parking structure,” Machen said. “The parking structure and the beautiful new institute building have greatly improved the aesthetics in this area.”

Plans for the parking garage were originally announced in conjunction with the groundbreaking ceremony for the new institute building in January 2001.