City ends back-in parking ‘experiment’

Grand Junction City Council members decided to just roll with a mistake Wednesday night and voted unanimously to put the brakes on back-in parking.

Redoing 47 parking spaces along Seventh and Main streets   from reverse-angle to the standard nose-in parking will cost an estimated $60,000, according to an estimate by Sorter Construction, the city said. The money will come from the Downtown Development Authority, which is funded through taxes on downtown businesses.

“I do think we need to pay attention to the DDA’s concerns of impacts on businesses,” Grand Junction Mayor Teresa Coons said at Wednesday night’s council meeting. “Perhaps it is time to end the experiment.”

The reverse-angle parking “experiment” originally was intended to blanket more of the downtown parking spaces as streets were upgraded. However, the reverse-angle spaces were not used along a rebuilt Colorado Avenue or along the rebuilt stretch Main Street west of Seventh Street.

The reverse-angle spots were used only along Seventh near Main Street and along Main for a block east of Seventh.

According to some studies, backing into parking spaces was thought to be safer because people would exit their vehicles and head toward sidewalks. Motorists pulling out could have a clear view of traffic. No accidents were noted during the nearly four years of back-in parking.

However, Seventh Street was not nearly wide enough for motorists to complete a back-in maneuver without holding up traffic, City Council members agreed. Store owners said the awkward parking hurt their businesses because people didn’t like it.

Heidi Hoffman Ham, executive director of the DDA, said Sorter will complete the work to reconstruct planters, light fixtures, tree placement and concrete work associated with the change. Funds are included in the DDA budget for the second phase of the downtown uplift, a three-block refurbishing of underground utilities and added amenities on Main Street. Construction to redo the parking spaces would be completed near the end of the completion of the Downtown Uplift project, Hoffman Ham said.

In other business, City Council members unanimously voted to annex 614.3 acres owned by the Grand Junction Regional Airport, for airport expansion. The land has an assessed value of $1.9 million. Council members also unanimously decided to schedule a workshop about managing recreation in the desert area near the airport and about a proposal for fencing.


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