City prepares to move forward on Downtown parking improvements

Effort will start with on-street parking on Liberty & Main streets next week
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 12:34 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Changes are coming to parking in Downtown, Harrisonburg Public Works reports, as the City begins to implement improvements allowing visitors to more easily find parking near their favorite shops and restaurants.

Drivers may have noticed new “Changes Are Coming” signs in Harrisonburg’s Downtown this week, as the first phase of improvements near enactment, according to a press release Friday.

On-street parking along South Main Street and South Liberty Street between Harrisonburg City Hall and the monument near Grattan Street will transition to 10-hour parking next week, kicking off a schedule of improvements in Downtown that will last through late August, according to Public Works officials

Public Works says the changes are a result of extensive community engagement, detailed analysis and a nearly 150-page study that looked into how best to prepare Downtown parking for today and the decade to come.

Reportedly only 27 percent of parking in Downtown is public, meaning Harrisonburg Public Works must work creatively to address the needs of the thousands of visitors, residents and employees who come to Downtown every day.

It is these parking areas that will see changes over the summer, creating primarily three types of parking: permit-only during specific hours, 10-hour free parking and four-hour free parking, officials say.

Public Works adds there also will be 10-minute spaces in strategic locations to make picking up from Downtown stores and restaurants easier. Every lot and deck also will have at least one designated disabled parking space.

In the Downtown Parking Study completed in 2019 before the pandemic slowed the project, Public Works says 1,100 people provided input to City staff and consultants about how they use Downtown parking. That input showed that 87 percent of Downtown visitors used public parking instead of private parking spaces, highlighting the need for City staff to look closely at how best to utilize that limited resource.

Additionally, 73 percent of people indicated that they park for four hours or less when Downtown, meaning the City could simplify parking hours and put more focus on providing spaces visitors used most. Based on these findings, Harrisonburg Public Works says they decided to take the 1,256 public parking spaces that currently have one of 13 parking restrictions and transitioning them to the three primary types of spaces: 479 four-hour spaces, 496 permit spaces, and 126 10- hour spaces.

The other 150 spaces will be 10-mintue, disabled parking or reserved with two motorcycle, two 30-minute and 11 two-hour spaces sprinkled in, officials add.

“These Downtown parking changes are the first in a series that are being implemented from the results of the Downtown Parking Study,” Harrisonburg Public Works Director Tom Hartman said. “We, in coordination with other departments in the City, expect to see more changes to improve the Downtown experience.”

The changes will be rolled out over the summer, one parking area at a time, beginning on June 14 with the street parking along South Main and South Liberty streets. On-street parking there will become 10-hour parking.

The anticipated schedule for Downtown parking changes is as follows:

  • June 14-19: South Liberty & South Main streets: 10-hour parking
  • June 21-25: Clark & Bradshaw lot: permit parking
  • June 28-July 7: Hardesty-Higgins House lot: 4-hour parking and Harrison House lot: permit parking
  • July 7-14: South Main Street Lot: 4-hour & 10-minute parking, Newman Avenue and Water Street lots: 4-hour parking, and WHSV Lot: reserved, 2-hour and 10-minute parking
  • July 14-16: North Liberty Street and Liberty Park lots: 4-hour parking
  • July 19-23: Municipal Building lots: permit parking, 4-hour parking and reserved parking
  • July 26-August 8: Elizabeth Street Deck: permit and 4-hour parking
  • August 9-20: Water Street Deck: permit, 4-hour and 10-minute parking

Public Works adds that permit spaces will require a permit to park in the designated spaces Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The spaces will be unrestricted during all other days and times. Public parking will be monitored by Harrisonburg Police Department Monday through Saturday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Parking will be unrestricted outside of these hours and on Sundays and holidays.

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