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Goodbye Free Downtown Parking?

Downtown Austin
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Our buddy over at the Austin Business Journal, Jacob Dirr, is reporting that the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) wants you to pay for parking downtown until midnight and end free parking on Saturdays.  ATD also wants to extend meter enforcement citywide from 5:30 p.m. until 6 p.m., reports the ABJ.

To curb a lack of on-street parking, sucked up by bar staff and others who work downtown, staff thinks the city should institute a three-hour time limit per space at night. The city expects to make $2 million from the enforcement changes, according to the memo. The University of Texas at Austin has also asked the city to extend parking meter hours to include Saturdays. Discussion to extend hours to Saturday in state-operated metered spaces is currently underway, according to the city memo.

A study conducted by the city in 2008 confirmed what anyone searching for a parking spot on Saturday night could tell you anecdotally, that 99 percent of on-street spots were occupied on weekend evenings.

The city council adopted a resolution this year to create a joint subcommittee of the Urban Transportation Commission and Downtown Commission. The committee will study the parking situation and report back to council in March 2011.

KUT News has reported in the past how University Area Partners, a West Campus neighborhood association, is actively working to have parking meters installed on West Campus streets north of 24th Street, where parking is mostly free. UAP says the revenue could be used to pay for street renovation projects.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.