Kent City Council met to discuss several issues on Wednesday night, including a change of parking spaces on the West Main Street bridge in downtown Kent. The bridge, which is located above the Franklin Mills River Edge Park, currently has 14 diagonal parking spaces where members of the community allegedly park frequently.
City Engineer James Bowling presented the idea to Kent’s city council under the Health and Safety Committee to renovate the parking spaces on the W. Main Street bridge. Bowling determined that there is 44-50% usage of the parking spots between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. through data gathered between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
City Manager Dave Ruller introduced Bowling’s presentation and brought up the issues of the recently added parking deck and service lot in downtown.
“You may recall that six or seven years ago, we revisited the issue of potential parking on the Main Street bridge and in light of the county’s project, it seemed like the appropriate time to revisit the issue of parking,” said Ruller. “We’ve made a bunch of changes downtown since 2007 and when I last talked about this, we have a new parking deck and a new service lot.”
According to Bowling, the parking deck does not effect the W. Main Street’s parking usage.
“We tracked [utilization] before the deck was open and after the deck was open and after the deck started charging. What we came up with was that there was no significant impact to utilization of that parking area based on the deck opening or starting to charge,” said Bowling.
A motion to create more parking spaces by changing the spaces from diagonal to parallel and explore the idea of meters was also raised during the meeting. According to Bowling, parallel parking would create approximately 2-3 more spaces on the bridge and create a better flow of traffic.
“I think this is the perfect time to change the traffic on the bridge because people have not been driving across that bridge for several months now and it’s going to continue for several more months,” said Heidi Shaffer, Ward 5, said. “I would prefer it to see no parking on the bridge, but as a compromise, I’m willing to accept parallel parking on the bridge.”
After a lengthy discussion of parallel parking, including curb height and the aesthetic of the bridge, the motion to create parallel parking spaces and to explore meter parking on the W. Main Street bridge was passed by city council 5-2.