WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — How can officials improve Washington’s downtown parking infrastructure to accommodate increased tourism and economic growth?

That’s the question East Carolina University students tried to answer in a recent parking study. Students in ECU’s Community and Regional Planning program partnered with the Pamlico Business Resource Center to conduct the study in spring 2022. It was the city’s first parking study since 2007.

Students consulted with local officials and other stakeholders while examining the city’s existing parking infrastructure; the parking behaviors of those who work, reside in or visit the city; and potential parking solutions.

The study yielded 16 recommendations. You can find those recommendations in the final study report below.

The study focused on the downtown area spanning Stewart Parkway to the south, Third Street to the north, Bridge Street to the west and Bonner Street to the east.

One notable finding from the study is that a parking deck is “economically unfeasible” for the city.

“Based on current estimates, the average cost to construct a 150,000-square-foot multilevel parking garage is almost $10 million,” the report says. “This hefty price tag creates a heavy burden on the tax base. Additionally, there is a problem with equity as not all of the tax base will see the deck’s economic benefit. We believe other recommendations will sufficiently provide enough parking for all.”

The study also found that a parking deck would cause problems with “aesthetic continuity” and would “hurt Washington’s ability to preserve and enhance the historic character.”