Downtown parking project emphasizes efficiency |

Downtown parking project emphasizes efficiency

City plans to increase flow of information

This new parking meter, destined for deployment at Main St. and Heber Ave., is powered by a solar panel and will accept payment via smartphone app. The City plans on beginning the replacement of the existing meters on Sept. 18 and officially rolling out the new meters on Oct. 9.
(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

Residents and visitors paying to park in Old Town will soon see roving vehicles with license plate detecting cameras on the side, part of the city’s effort to streamline the parking process.

The replacement of Main Street’s aging parking meters is slated to begin next Monday, Sept. 18. On Oct. 9, new meters which support payment via smartphone app will go online. Parkers will be identified simply by their license plate number.

The app will be rolled out in stages, beginning with the Oct. 9 launch and then a slate of new features on Dec. 15, when the parking project is scheduled to be finished. The full rollout will include the ability to pay parking citations and a live view of open parking stalls, similar to what patrons of the Summit Bike Share see on their app.

“The project is really about getting better information into the hands of our residents and guests, meaning parking availability and also understanding what our patterns are and better utilizing our existing parking before further choices are made,” Parking and Fleet manager Kenzie Coulson said.

The Old Town overhaul is utilizing data that both already exists and that the Municipal Corporation is in the process of gathering. For example, Coulson said the Sandridge lots, located on south Marsac Ave., are underutilized and reach an average of 60 percent availability during the day.

“My advice would be to consider carpooling, taking the bus, walking, riding bikes, and if that’s not possible then I recommend the Sandridge parking lots on Marsac… it’s a safe bet for the daily parker,” Coulson said.

One such alternative transportation method, the Electric Xpress bus introduced in June, served 35,000 passengers running between Old Town and Kimball Junction during the month of July.

The “green dot” passes which allowed Main Street workers to park in the China Bridge parking garage free of a time limit will be phased out, and employees will be able to park without a time limit until 5 p.m. regardless of whether or not they have a pass.

New features in store for the China Bridge lot include a new coat of paint, which will help direct visitors to entrances and exits, and signage which will show how many stalls are available in the garage.

Coulson expects the availability of parking information to make for a smoother and more efficient flow of traffic downtown, not to mention for parkers themselves. She said a significant portion of pollution in American cities comes from drivers who are idling and searching for parking spots.

As for enforcement, the City will be adopting technologies which use license plates to determine whether a patron has paid or is in violation of parking rules. Fine amounts will also go up. The City will continue its policy of giving first-time violators a simple warning.

Coulson stressed that community feedback is essential to the process.

“We very much expect to make tweaks along the way… while we’ll have a lot of hard number data, we’re also in a position where we want that anecdotal data, we want to know how this affects the feel of the streets and the experience of the residents and the guests,” Coulson said.