Consultant recommends paid parking for Washington Street corridor downtown

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Nine years after its previous study into Columbus’s downtown parking situation, Nelson/Nygaard continues to recommend many of the same solutions including paid parking to increase the number of available spaces.

The firm presented an overview of its updated recommendations and meter procurement guidance to the Columbus Parking Commission on Thursday.

Executive Director of Public Works/City Engineer Dave Hayward said the commission expects to receive more finalized reports on this information in the near future. They will then discuss the matter further at a July meeting and decide what recommendations to make to city officials, he said.

Nelson/Nygaard is conducting an update to its 2013 downtown parking study at the request of the parking commission. Due to the commission’s inability to contract or receive funds, the work is being funded through a $19,470 grant from the Columbus Redevelopment Commission to the Columbus Board of Works, with the latter serving as the contracting entity.

The original study cost almost $85,000 and was also funded by the city’s redevelopment commission. The update is made up of four tasks: project startup and coordination, stakeholder engagement, updated recommendations, and meter/kiosk procurement guidance. The firm’s most recent presentation provided details on the latter two tasks.

Many of the current recommendations are generally similar to those recommended in 2013 pricing on-street parking to improve availability, expanding employee permit options, investing in technology and enforcement, expanding pedestrian, bicycle and transit infrastructure and improving wayfinding.

Nelson/Nygaard recommends that the city implement priced parking along the “Washington Street Core” of downtown. This includes Washington Street from Second to Seventh; Third Street from Jackson to Washington; Fourth Street from Jackson to Franklin; Fifth Street from Jackson to Franklin; and Jackson Street from Third to Fourth (both sides) and Fourth to Fifth (east side only).

Nelson/Nygaard project manager Tom Brown said that the firm recommends using “multi-space pay stations or kiosks,” with paid parking implemented on weekdays until 8 p.m.

“It’s typically, of course, until 5 or 6 p.m., but especially where you have any kind of evening activities, early evening restaurants that are busy at these time periods, it’s good to maintain that availability on these blocks,” said Brown. “And so turning off the meters often is an indication for evening shift employees to move into that parking, which shuts off that convenient parking for the visitors arriving for the dinner hours.”

He added that priced parking may not be necessary before 10 a.m., and it might be a good idea to offer a free hour of parking before that time.

The initial recommended parking rate is $1 per hour, with this being adjusted over time. Additionally, officials should “ensure that the selected meter vendor can accommodate progressive rates, and increase the hourly rate to $2 after two hours of duration.”

Nelson/Nygaard also recommended that the city should provide informational warning tickets during the first month of implementation and provide a way for businesses to offer digital parking validation to customers.

For the complete story, see Tuesday’s Republic.