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Column: New parking technology hits Superior Street

Kristi Stokes

In the last few years, Duluth has made great strides to improve its parking management system. And next week, yet another change will come for those who visit the downtown and park on Superior Street.

The City of Duluth and Greater Downtown Council teamed up in 2010 to hire a panel of nationally recognized parking experts to develop recommendations and an action plan to enhance and improve the downtown parking experience. At the top of the panel’s list was to develop a parking management structure and to strengthen technology to improve the customer’s experience.

Significant changes have resulted from the hiring of City parking manager Matt Kennedy and the addition of Interstate Parking as the management agent for off-street lots and ramps. Plus, the Duluth Parking Commission has been given more authority.

Through these changes, new policies and practices have come forward; and all have been modeled to further help make parking easier to understand and more user-friendly.

And now we are targeting another item, one that is often the topic of complaints. The City of Duluth is testing a program that will give our parking customers payment options.

Yes, that’s right: A technology trial will be held on Superior Street that allows customers to pay via credit card or with other than quarters.

We know it has been frustrating and difficult for those who park at meters that accept only quarters. Now, we need your input on automated pay stations.

In the coming week, meters on the 300 block of West Superior Street will be replaced by parking space-number signs and three automated pay stations. Similar to Canal Park’s system on Canal Park Drive, it will allow motorists to punch in their space numbers and pay for their parking without the need to display any receipt.

The time limit and price to park will remain unchanged during the entire test run.

This will be a change for many people, but ambassadors will also be out on the street during the initial weeks to help answer any questions and guide individuals through the process.

It’s also important that such a test program of new technology be done during various weather conditions; this trial is expected to last approximately 4 months.

Such technology has been deployed in cities across the country, and you have likely experienced it somewhere in your travels. It’s aimed at giving customers more payment options, therefore providing a better parking experience.

And since parking is likely the first and last impression for motorists in our downtown, we want the lasting impression to be a positive one.

Kristi Stokes is the president of the Greater Downtown Council in Duluth. Contact her at 727-8549 or by email at kstokes@downtownduluth.com.

Kristi Stokes

Kristi Stokes is the president of the Greater Downtown Council in Duluth. Contact her at 727-8549.

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