Durham’s New Parking Meters Are Confusing. We’re Here to Help. | Durham County | Indy Week
Pin It

Durham’s New Parking Meters Are Confusing. We’re Here to Help. 

click to enlarge 160506_ab_indy_parking_0013.jpg

Photo by Alex Boerner

All over downtown Durham on Monday afternoon, small groups of people were huddled on sidewalks around tall black machines, puzzled looks on their faces.

It was the first day the city's new metered parking system was in effect.

"Hate it," David Negrotto said. "I've lived here twenty-seven years, and I've never had to do this." After swiping his credit card to pay for a two-hour spot near City Hall, Negrotto was left staring at a blank screen, when two of the city's parking ambassadors deployed throughout downtown this week came to his aid.

Negrotto warmed to the new system after learning more about how it works and how the revenue from the meters—about $1.7 million per year, the city projects—will go toward increasing, maintaining, and providing security for parking downtown. But the process still seemed overly complicated.

"I think I'll start riding my bike more," he said.

Since the city decided last year to abandon free downtown parking and move forward with the meters—something virtually every fast-growing city eventually decides to do—the stated goal hasn't been to raise money but rather to increase turnover of in-demand on-street parking spaces downtown. To that end, the city has converted about one thousand free parking spots to metered parking. From eight a.m. to seven p.m. Monday through Friday, it will cost you $1.50 per hour to park in the metered spots, except on holidays. (Also this week, the price of parking in one of seven city decks or lots—where there is no time limit—will increase from $1 per hour to $1.25 per hour, which is still cheaper than on-street parking.)

Sounds simple enough—if, that is, the machines worked like parking meters you'd find in most other cities, where drivers enter a spot number and pay for however much time they need, up to a maximum, and then refill the meter as needed. But Durham's don't. Most on-street spots will continue to have time limits, so motorists who reach the limit but aren't ready to leave will need to move their cars rather than refilling the meter. (If you purchase less than the time limit and need to extend your parking duration, you can do that via the free Passport Parking app.)

The parking ambassadors, wearing neon green vests and holding stacks of printed instructions, were busy on Monday explaining the difference between single-space meters—which are exactly what they sound like—and multispace meters, which take payment for a block or "parking zone." A parking ambassador who helped Negrotto advises not to pull out your credit card quickly, "like at the gas station." She said most questions she fielded on Monday were about the time limits.

One hundred and fifteen single-space and 155 multispace meters were installed, costing the city more than $2 million. For multispace meters, you'll need to enter your license plate number.

Nicole J. Thompson, president and CEO of Downtown Durham Inc., says paid on-street parking in Durham was necessary to accommodate Durham's growth.

"I would say that parking is an issue, and it has been, and in order to deal with it in a fair and equitable manner, you have to look at all the options, and paying to park is one way to address that," she says. Although there will be a learning curve, she doesn't see the new system harming businesses. If anything, the meter system will ensure more parking availability and encourage people to use alternate means of getting around downtown.

The meters will be located from Buchanan Boulevard to Fayetteville Street and from Lakewood Avenue to Geer Street, although most are concentrated within the downtown loop.

Revenue from the meters will be put toward parking-related expenses, like operating the city's parking program, building a new mixed-use parking garage downtown, making $1.8 million in elevator upgrades, resurfacing parking lots, upgrading security and surveillance in the parking decks, expanding off-street parking, and keeping the metered parking system up to date, the city says.

Delivery, installation, and maintenance of the 270 meters will cost nearly $2.3 million, per contracts approved by the city council. Three additional full-time staff positions were created to monitor and maintain the new meters. Those positions, as well as maintenance supplies, will cost $288,764 annually, according to the city.

Drivers can pay with coins, cash, or a card, as well as the free Passport Parking App.

Word on the street—literally—is that there will be a grace period this week for motorists who hog a spot too long. If you're willing to chance it, the fee for parking citations will remain $20.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Parked and Wrecked."

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Durham County



Twitter Activity

Comments

I was proud to be in the streets with these and many other hundreds of wonderful Durhamites to show our …

by Ruby Sinreich on The Radicals Who Toppled a Confederate Monument Have Sparked a National Conversation. But Who Are They? (Durham County)

It makes me sincerely proud! Tons of respect to those who are struggling against the state right now. I may …

by Jaydeeh on The Radicals Who Toppled a Confederate Monument Have Sparked a National Conversation. But Who Are They? (Durham County)

Most Recent Comments

I was proud to be in the streets with these and many other hundreds of wonderful Durhamites to show our …

by Ruby Sinreich on The Radicals Who Toppled a Confederate Monument Have Sparked a National Conversation. But Who Are They? (Durham County)

It makes me sincerely proud! Tons of respect to those who are struggling against the state right now. I may …

by Jaydeeh on The Radicals Who Toppled a Confederate Monument Have Sparked a National Conversation. But Who Are They? (Durham County)

Just makes me proud to see my hometown becoming a haven for Marxists. (NOT)! …

by Barbara 2 on The Radicals Who Toppled a Confederate Monument Have Sparked a National Conversation. But Who Are They? (Durham County)

"DH (Donald Hughs) is one of the most hostile and antagonistic people I've ever, ever met in politics. Which is …

by Steven Matherly on Is It Time for Durham to Rethink Its Unusual Method of Electing Some City Council Members? (Durham County)

"Also I gather she did not tell the reporter that she was a leader in packing the Peoples Alliance meeting …

by Steven Matherly on Is It Time for Durham to Rethink Its Unusual Method of Electing Some City Council Members? (Durham County)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation