Posted on February 28, 2013 at 8:28 AM
Thursday, Feb 28 at 8:41 AM
AUSTIN -- Free parking along one of Austin's popular nightspots is over.
Parking meters will turn on for the first time Thursday morning in the Rainey Street District. City crews removed the plastic wrap around newly installed parking meters around 5:30 a.m.
The meters are the first in a string of improvements for the district. The City of Austin wants to make changes to Rainey Street because the area has become increasingly popular and increasingly crowded.
“We just don't have enough width in the street to do everything we need to and we are increasingly concerned about the safety for pedestrians and cyclists and all the people trying to use this area,” explained Robert Spillar with the City of Austin’s Transportation Department.
Currently there are 300 parking spaces along Rainey Street. The meters provide an additional 15 spaces. Another 125 are also opening up for Rainey Street customers at the nearby Mexican American Cultural Center.
Some bar owners on Rainey Street don’t support the move.
“I think it's a terrible idea. I think the City's just trying to find another way to make money,” said Michael Icenhauer of Icenhauer’s bar.
The City says money raised from the meters will help cover the cost of installation as well as parking enforcement officers and additional road improvements.
The meters cost a dollar an hour and will run on regular downtown meter hours:
- Monday through Wednesday: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
- Thursday through Friday: 8 a.m. - Midnight
- Saturday: 11 a.m. - Midnight