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Paid parking coming to South Congress Avenue in October

Paid parking will be in effect Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. until midnight and on Sundays from 1 p.m. until midnight.

AUSTIN, Texas — Changes are coming to iconic South Congress Avenue in Austin.

Parking has always been free along the famous street, but that will change starting in October.

"Historically, [it's] been of those places to visit, come to and navigate to Austin. [It's] historically had parking challenges over time," said Joseph Al-Hajeri, the City of Austin's Mobility Demand Program Manager.

The City is working to put parking enforcement signs up this month. Al-Hajeri said the goal of instituting paid parking is to create more turnover and make parking easier on South Congress Avenue from Riverside Drive to Live Oak Street and adjacent streets.

Parking funds will go toward infrastructure improvements in the South Congress area. The City conducted a study in 2019 before making this change.

"[The] public typically would say, 'We cannot find parking,' so they don't go down to South Congress. They circled around trying to find it, you have businesses say they want patrons coming in, and residents saying, 'It’s so much traffic, I cannot find parking in from of my house,'" Al-Hajeri said.

There will be no parking machines or meters. Rather, payments will made through the Park ATX Mobile app. Drivers who don't use the app can text "Parking" to 30843.

Some said they hope parking would remain free.

"I love free parking, it was a staple, one of those free little nuggets left in Austin," said resident Cutler Young. "It's unfortunate to see it go to paid parking versus free, when it has been forever."

Young grew up in Austin and loves coming to South Congress Avenue to walk around.

Others like Manuel Pena come to South Congress Avenue often. He said he won't mind paying if it means parking would be easier.

"What solutions do you have you cannot create more spaces," Pena said.

Parking will be $2 per hour for the first two hours, then go up to $3 on the third hour and continue to rise each hour parked.

People can get validation codes for 15 minutes of free parking. Parking will be enforced Monday thru Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m., and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 12 a.m.

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