Dependable Erection

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

Big events like the July 4 fireworks show and tonight's Bob Dylan concert could wind up giving the city a big black eye if officials can't figure out how to empty downtown's parking decks more quickly afterward, elected officials say.

City Council members Eugene Brown and Diane Catotti complained about the pace of departures from the decks beside the American Tobacco complex shortly after the fireworks show, saying it took 45 minutes to an hour for traffic to clear.

. . .

Brown and Catotti said the July 4 problems affected the so-called "north" deck - the city owned parking structure along West Pettigrew Street - and to their eye came in part because attendants were only letting people make a right onto Pettigrew from the single exit that was open.

Catotti - who said she needed about 40 minutes to get out of the deck despite being parked only one level up - added that a gate arm that dropped between every exiting car helped slow the process.

Lanier officials said the single-exit, right-turn-only arrangement on July 4 complied with the Durham Police Department's specifications.

Most cars had exited the north deck by about 11 p.m., following the fireworks' conclusion at about 9:45 p.m., Joe Vallejos, a Lanier senior project manager, said in an e-mail to city officials. He added that the company would do whatever police and other city officials tell it to.

Police were happy with the July 4 traffic flow.

Central District Capt. Loretta Clyburn told her higher-ups that it took only about 35 minutes to clear the area around the American Tobacco complex, and that the worst jams lasted only about 15 minutes.

"I consider this a great success considering there were about 10,000 people in the area for this event," she added in a July 8 message to Deputy Police Chief Beverly Council.

The deputy chief agreed, and noted that there's another factor aside from speed to consider. "Moving 10,000 people without any accidents is awesome," Council told Bonfield, also on July 8.

Because getting 10,000 people to come to Durham, spend their evening in the parking deck, and leave without any accidents, is exactly what we need to boost downtown, isn't it? Wouldn't want any of those visitors spending any time walking around downtown and visiting our awesome restaurants and cultural facilities, would we?

I'll be at the Dylan show tonight. And i won't be parking anywhere near a parking deck.

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  • Barry, you won't get people "walking around downtown and visiting our awesome restaurants and cultural facilities" if you make them stay because of poor parking and traffic flow. All that does is keep people away from downtown all the time becasue of their perception that "traffic is always bad in downtown Durham." Ask anyone about the downtown loop for an example

    This is, in fact, the approach Chapel Hill uses. By making parking all but impossible downtown, they hope to force people to use their [excellent] bus system. As a former business owner, I can tell you that people don't hop on the bus -- they take their money to Southpoint.

    If you want people at the DBAP to sample more of downtown [and that is an admirable goal], you have to find ways to lure them there. Forcing them to go while they wait for the parking deck to empty will simply make their last memory of Durham an unpleasant one.

    By Blogger Steve Nicewarner, at 8:58 AM  

  • Maybe i was a little too oblique in my point, which is basically, don't put people in the parking decks in the first place. There's still a couple of hundred on-street parking spaces that are left vacant for god knows what reason. There's a goodly number of surface lots that are privately owned and closed to the public at night. And there's no public transportation system to speak of in Durham, especially after 8 pm.

    Instead of building a new parking deck for every downtown development project, we should be working on better ways to move people around in the city that don't involve driving in from out of town, parking in a big building that's attached to the destination event, and then leaving.

    I don't go to Chapel Hill too much these days, but it's not because of the parking.

    By Blogger Barry, at 9:14 AM  

  • Yeah, you can walk 10 minutes north of Ambac/DBAP/DPAC and find tons of free parking from which you can extricate yourself in seconds. Parking decks are for suckers (and out of towners who think downtown Durham is too scary to walk through.)

    By Blogger Brian, at 10:28 AM  

  • Maybe you were oblique -- maybe I was pre-caffeine. I do agree with your overall point -- that we need a more integrated and supported transportation network. I've just seen that you need to entice people into using it instead of pushing them against their will.

    By Blogger Steve Nicewarner, at 10:33 AM  

  • I think lots of cities are already starting to do this "against" the will of the people by raising parking rates and changing zoning regs away from minimum parking requirements (of, say 2.1 spaces per bedroom) and towards maximum off-street parking spaces allowed.

    Fewer parking spaces along with more convenient and usable transit options (not to mention safer pedestrian thoroughfares - i assume everyone caught the State of Things last Friday?) will almost of necessity lead to declining use of cars, less demand for parking garages, etc.

    All it takes is vision.

    By Blogger Barry, at 10:41 AM  

  • Adding - i live about a mile and a half from City Hall, maybe 2 miles from the ballpark. There is no other city i've lived in where i felt those were not walking distance. No other city where getting in my car was my first choice to get from my house to those destinations.

    But there's simply no way that i would walk or take the bus home from the Dylan show tonight. I'll probably park in/near the loop, and maybe have a snack or a drink on the way out, but i'll still be taking the car.

    By Blogger Barry, at 10:45 AM  

  • It would be great if we could get the old Duke Beltline RR tracks and add them to the Tobacco Trail network. This would allow folks living in Duke Park, Old North Durham and Trinity Park to follow the trail to downtown and avoid dealing with all the idiots that speed like bats outta hell through our neighborhoods (many of which are city vehicles).

    By Blogger SteveG, at 3:17 PM  

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