Can 56 Parking Meters Fix Washington Avenue's Traffic Mess?

Categories: Only In Houston

Eight-0501.jpg
Photos by Son Lam
This scene outside Ei8ht in early 2010 captured Washington Avenue during a peak time of congestion.
At 7 a.m. today, 56 parking meters scattered along the Washington Avenue area will be turned on, the first step in a new plan the City of Houston hopes will eventually relieve the severe traffic congestion that at peak times can suffocate one of its most popular entertainment corridors.

As announced Tuesday, the meters will cover a stretch of Washington lasting running about three miles, from Houston Avenue to Westcott Street. Between the side streets of Center to the north and Lillian/Decatur to the south, the area has been designated Houston's first-ever Parking Benefit District, or PBD.

Created by City Council in December 2012, the Washington Avenue PBD is supposed to funnel 60 percent of the revenue collected from these new meters directly into an array of community improvements that could include landscaping, public safety, sidewalk improvements or lighting. (The money collected from meters in other parts of Houston goes into the city's General Fund.)

At first glance, it may not seem like fewer than five dozen parking meters could make much of a dent, in either Washington's late-night gridlock or the new PBD's coffers, but Don Pagel would beg to differ.

A Deputy Director of the city's Department of Administrative and Regulatory Affairs and boss of its Parking Management Division, Pagel says he expects the meters to bring in between $500,000 and $600,000 over the course of the Washington PBD's 18-month pilot program.

Salt-0501.jpg
Salt bar nearby, from the same time period, was considerably less congested.
That's a lot of quarters, though the meters are also accessible via credit card or the Parkmobile smartphone app. But Pagel is really hoping that the meters are like pushing over the first domino that leads to a complete realignment of the way people approach parking in the Washington corridor. Eliminating the dogged search for that magic free parking spot could actually help increase the area's safety by reducing congestion, Pagel points out.

"The notion of not having any free parking available generally causes people to take the first space they can find," he says.

No more free parking also creates an incentive for private parking companies to think about pooling their resources to create some kind of shared facility, Pagel adds. While he says has heard of no such plans afoot here yet, Pagel cautions that it is still early on in Houston's plan and that, although PBDs have been tried in other cities, the Washington program is one of the biggest he's seen thus far.

"I think we'll see more interest in some of these [shared parking] organizations as we move a few months," he says.


My Voice Nation Help
15 comments
rockydog1
rockydog1

This is a pure revenue grab by the city.  How many tickets will be written on the first weekend?  Wake up.  After 2 parking tickets, they have the right to boot your car/ 

Joseph Mancuso
Joseph Mancuso

good ole COH , any plan that charges the public more money( to go in the city coffers) to correct a problem has to be the solution. In my opinion, the city helped create the problem by approving the building permits of the homes and commercial properties in the area. Obviously they did not allow for enough parking, but they kept approving building permits & accepting the money generated by all of it.If you are the one to approve all the building permits can you figure out the traffic related to it ?

carriebwc
carriebwc

How about NO parking?  Isn't that a no brainer?

local_resident
local_resident

I doubt it'll reduce congestion...  What we really need is to disallow street parking on the entirety of Washington Ave and build parking garages periodically along the street

Candyman Vending ATM
Candyman Vending ATM

yeah washington avenue is on the decline only a couple spots that people still go drink at

Jacob Bocanegra
Jacob Bocanegra

someone should have thought about this 20 years ago when washington ave was nothing....

mi chelle
mi chelle

whatever they do i hope they keep people from parking on the street and taking up traffic lanes

Jared Meadors
Jared Meadors

Was there a "traffic mess" on Wash Ave? If there was, I never noticed it. And I'm on that street every day, many times a day. So, this must be a nighttime / weekend thing. And if traffic was the problem, then they should have simply put up "no parking between the hours of (insert problem hours here)" signs so that both lanes of traffic would be clear in both directions. Allowing people to park in the same places they were parking before--but simply charging them to do so--doesn't address the underlying problem--it simply raises revenue for the city. But that's typically the City's point of view about everything; instead of solving the city's underlying problems they simply try to find ways to add new taxes to anything and everything we do (and, yes, parking fees are by definition taxes) and spend the money on other things.

Arsenio Favela
Arsenio Favela

They should've put a parking garage in. Everybody drives in Houston, but nobody is making parking lots/garages.

Sid Jacobson
Sid Jacobson

It is the final nail in the Washington Street coffin. As is there is limited parking, compulsory valets, and implied cover charges with high parking lot fees. The fifty or so spots on the street will not change this and will clutter the street with tow trucks and meter maids. Time to bring in the Denny's and Outbacks.

Dodd Melcher
Dodd Melcher

Sell it how you want. This won't solve any traffic problems. Just a way for City of Houston to get some money. Probably should have put them in at least two years ago though, the popularity of Washington Ave is on the decline. Bars/clubs are starting to close there and people are heading to other areas of town to do their drinking it seems.

Jose Vazquez
Jose Vazquez

people still go to washington ave? *TROLL alert*... heh heh

Josh Webster
Josh Webster

Would have been a great idea 5 years ago.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Houston Event Tickets
Loading...