Tuesday, January 7, 2020 by Ryan Thornton

Parking pilot to free up on-street parking, create parking solutions for construction site personnel

The Austin Transportation Department is pursuing a multiyear parking pilot to reduce the impact of parking during construction at downtown sites.

In a Jan. 2 memo, Transportation Director Robert Spillar said the Downtown Construction Workers Parking Pilot is partially based on a similar program that surveyed construction workers and employers about their commute and parking habits for a few months during construction at 405 Colorado St.

For the upcoming pilot, the department will identify large construction projects and survey workers and employers over the entire duration of construction, between two and three years. At the same time, general contractors for those sites will enter into an agreement with the city to create and carry out a Construction Personnel Parking Mitigation Plan. While continuing to focus on commutes and parking behaviors, the surveys will also be used to determine if the program is effective enough for permanent adoption.

The program is being reserved for large-scale projects that will be under construction for at least one year, cost over $7.5 million and employ 30 or more on-site construction workers. All projects will be located in the downtown area.

For projects that meet the conditions, general contractors will submit a mitigation plan during the right of way permitting phase. That plan will identify any off-street parking facilities and the number of spaces that will be needed for workers throughout the project. If the facilities are privately operated, the contractor must include a draft agreement with the operator that must be in effect before the spaces are used.

To protect workers, the pilot dictates that contractors cover the cost of parking to the extent that it exceeds the cost of on-street parking. Contractors are also expected to offer financial incentives for employees who opt to carpool.

Contractors will also designate a number of transit passes to be given to construction workers who prefer to commute via public transit. For those who need to drive, the plan is expected to include options such as public transit, shuttles or discounted rides on dockless vehicles to get between the off-street parking facility and the construction site.

The city will help facilitate the plans by offering a map of downtown private parking facilities with the operator’s contact information as well as 30-40 spaces for workers in city-owned or -operated lots in and around downtown. The Transportation Department will also be issuing on-street parking permits for commercial vehicles and for vehicles needed to load and unload heavy equipment at a site.

The pilot is a result of a June 2018 City Council resolution that requested more parking options for developers and workers in order to reduce demand for on-street spaces while creating incentives to carpool or use other transportation options.

The Transportation Department had initially planned to bring Council two ordinance changes for consideration in early 2019. Based on feedback from the task force on downtown construction site parking (comprising Movability, Downtown Austin Alliance, the Association of General Contractors, construction personnel representatives, developers, and general contractors), Transportation chose to conduct a pilot before offering ordinance changes.

Photo by Jeffrey Zeldman made available through a Creative Commons license.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Transportation Department: This city department is responsible for municipal transportation planning including roadways and bikeways.

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