Jacksonville works to improve downtown parking

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – If you’ve every been to downtown Jacksonville on a weekday, you know what a hassle parking can be, especially when court is in session.

“I’m a half hour early for jury duty because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find a parking space,” said Terry Crissell, who tried to park downtown on Wednesday. “I lucked out because there’s only three left (where I parked).”

And with the future addition to the district courthouse bringing in more folks, things could get worse. So the city developed a draft plan to guide future parking projects in the downtown area.

“We’re looking at a street scape project downtown that would hopefully add some additional parking,” Anthony Prinz, transportation director, said. “There will be areas that are impacted, but our goal is for the net difference to be an increase.”

The project includes proposals for additional on-street parking, for example along Chaney Avenue, as well as additional surface lots near hotspots like the Public Safety Building, the Health Department and the courthouse.

A study conducted in 2011 identified about 500 public parking spaces across the downtown area.

Prinz says 60 percent of all available public spaces are occupied on average during the day, with that number growing as you get closer to the courthouse.

“We’re mostly looking at surface parking right now because when you go to parking decks the cost increases exponentially,” Prinz said. “We’re talking about $15,000 to $25,000 per parking space for a deck when you’re $1,000/$2,000 for a surface parking lot.”

And changes are also being considered along New Bridge Street as the city works to revitalize it. One option: the addition of parking in a median.

Some improvements like the expanded parking lot off Tallman Street are already finished. The improved lot opened earlier this week and includes 75 additional parking spaces in front of the Sheriff’s Office.

“Our goal is not only to have additional parking but to have that parking in the right locations,” Prinz said.

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