The Road Back: Rebuilding APT's Parking Lot

Posted April 25, 2023 By Sara Young

Parking lot road back

In this entry of The Road Back, Managing Director Sara Young walks us through the many ongoing projects happening in the APT parking lot. Of course, we're more excited for you to come experience the finished product yourself this summer, but until then we're thrilled to talk about what's currently in the works. Read on for more!

Today’s edition of The Road Back is about the parking lot. Yep, not super exciting to regular people, but parking lot improvements are one of the number one requests of APT patrons. Indeed, the parking lot has been on the list of needed improvements for years. Decades, even.

So in late 2021 when the state of Wisconsin announced a special grant program for capital projects that would promote tourism, we knew we had an ideal project. They also wanted projects that were shovel-ready. We checked that box too, thanks to a group of UW-Platteville civil engineering students who studied it for their senior project in Spring, 2020. It was a great collaboration – read more here.

Then in February of 2022, we got word that we were receiving nearly $1 million for improvements. Operations Manager Cari Stebbins got to work immediately working with our partners at Jewell Associates Engineers and getting contractor bids. We broke ground last October as soon as the Hill season closed.

Here’s a top to bottom summary of the many new features you can expect to see when you arrive this season.

  • Better Lighting: We’ll have new fixtures and better light coverage, provided by energy-efficient LED fixtures which are also dark sky friendly, so you’ll be able to enjoy the stars. In other words, you’ll be able to find your way easier but it won’t be lit like a suburban shopping mall.
  • More spaces: If you’ve ever come to APT close to showtime when there are performances in both theaters, you know that lot gets tight and occasionally we have to use the staff lot. Happily, we’re getting about 80 new spaces, mainly thanks to a new parking area on the west end of the lot. We had to take out some scrubby trees and other brush to make room, but now visitors will have a tremendous view of a large prairie near the Walk on the Wild Side trail. Win, win.
  • Another Exit: We’re adding a second exit on the west side of the lot, which should ease the pinch points a bit at the end of the night. Everyone will still enter at the main entrance though.
  • Better Water Management: Hopefully this is something our patrons won’t notice, but the new grading and resurfacing should prevent some of the extreme washouts that have wreaked havoc in the lot over the years. There may still be minimal washouts where there is still gravel, but we expect them to be much improved.
  • Accessible picnic area: We’re installing a small, paved picnic area near the shuttle stop to accommodate folks in wheelchairs, with walkers or other mobility needs.
  • Asphalt: Last but not least, there will be asphalt on the east half of the lot. We couldn’t afford to pave the whole thing – and honestly didn’t really want to. We have to keep APT somewhat rustic, right? Paving the portion near the shuttle will make for a much easier, more accessible walk to the shuttle for those that need it. Also, we’ll be able to create extra space to be able to pick-up and drop-off at the shuttle stop. Buses can even make it through to drop off!

There will also be new plantings, bus parking spaces and other little surprises you may notice, but those are the major elements. The crew is working hard to get it all done in time. We can’t wait to welcome you in just a little more than a month.