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Baton Rouge may upgrade parking meters
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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - New parking meters that allow parkers to pay with debit or credit cards could be coming to downtown Baton Rouge by the end of the year.
Downtown Development District executive director Davis Rhorer says the upgraded meters mostly would be in the downtown area, but some would be installed in other areas around the city that already have paid parking.
City-parish chief traffic engineer Ingolf Partenheimer told The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1mVKfnu) that bids for the meters are being evaluated. The city-parish also is trying to determine how many are needed.
“We’re hoping to set up a meeting this week or early next week to finalize who we will choose for this project,” Partenheimer said.
He said the city-parish does not yet have an estimate of the total cost to install the meters.
The meters could work with apps to allow drivers to pay for parking through smartphones and could identify where spots are available.
The need for new parking meters is being driven by cultural changes, Partenheimer said.
“People don’t carry loose change in their vehicles and pockets like they once did,” he said. “We’re hoping by taking credit cards, the number of tickets we write will go down and our revenue will go up.”
Currently, it costs 25 cents to park downtown for 30 minutes. Rhorer said as part of getting new meters, the rates may be raised by the Metro Council. Parking rates are low compared with similar cities, Rhorer said.
In New Orleans, city parking meters charge a maximum of $1.50 for 2 hours of parking, said Tyler Gamble, press secretary for Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Officials in Jackson, Mississippi, said downtown parking is 25 cents for 30 minutes.
City-parish officials are also working to add about 500 free parking spaces under Interstate 10 and Interstate 110. Striping work is underway and funding is being sought for additional lighting.
Rhorer estimates that the lighting will cost $70,000 to $80,000, far less than the cost of building a new parking garage downtown.
“Those spots would be used, not just for daily parking, but if you have big events at the RiverCenter,” Rhorer said.
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