Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Expect downtown parking changes and parking meters

Parking Swiping

The Bullitt Avenue closure is not the only parking change downtown citizens and visitors can expect. Parking signs are changing and will become less confusing. Gone will be signs limiting parking for 10 or 15  or 30 minute limits all clustered together on the same block. Look for more uniform parking times and limits.

The parking sign adjustments will not be the end of downtown parking changes. Roanokers can expect a parking meter trial sometime this summer said Assistant City Manager Brian Townsend. He said they were looking for a vendor who would offer them meters free to trial. In May or June they expect to complete a study on signage adjustments and pinpoint the optimum placement for high tech meters.

“The only area where we see there is enough demand for spaces where paying to park makes sense is in the core block area between Market Street down to Church Street and Williamson Road to Jefferson Street,” said Townsend. The purpose is to facilitate turnover.

The whole idea of providing on-street meters is to offer options to either pay on-street or use the parking garage. “We have to make sure whatever on-street system we have makes sense with the garage system – on-street being more convenient will cost more,” said Townsend.

Townsend said they are evaluating the kind of parking meter that would work best. Solar powered meters would work as a powering mechanism. “The real key is to find one that people can understand – the biggest thing we are hearing from people is that we want something we can swipe.”

The new technologically designed parking meters don’t come cheap depending on the options selected. They can be solar powered, accommodate money, credit, debit, prepaid cards and even payment through a Smartphone.

Townsend assured that the meters would not be money only. A trial will determine the public’s acceptance of the meters. He feels that the core Central Business District would support meters but the study will determine whether going beyond that would be feasible.

In December 2012 Thomas Brown, Senior Associate with the New York transportation planning firm Nelson\Nygaard and others from Nelson-Nygard came to Roanoke for two days and took a look at the parking situation in downtown. They conducted a workshop with Roanoke City staff and downtown businesses and property owners.

Brown’s December presentation to council suggested the improvements for downtown Roanoke’s parking inconsistencies and recommended the new high tech parking meters. The cost for the meters depends on the options and bulk purchase. At a minimum they would start at a couple hundred dollars each not counting a network system that would accommodate card swiping and Smartphone communications.

As the Elmwood Park renovation project moves forward, Bullitt Avenue will close permanently on March 11 as it transforms into a pedestrian artwalk. On the same day Roanoke’s Main Library will close for three days as water service is disrupted.

While the 27  existing parking spaces on Bullitt Avenue will be eliminated, the city is creating 36 new permanent on-street parking spaces. The city believes that with these additions, access to businesses on Jefferson Street and to the park will be greatly improved for residents and visitors.

There will  be 17 two-hour parking spaces on the south side of Day Avenue, between Jefferson Street and 1st Street, 10 one-hour parking spaces on the south side of Bullitt Avenue between Jefferson Street and 1st Street and 9 one-hour parking spaces on the east side of Jefferson Street between Bullitt Avenue and Luck Avenue.

“Pay to Stay” approach floated for downtown parking

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Business

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