Motorists who frequent greater downtown Birmingham by driving into town along Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard have long known of a “secret” to get from it to 20th Street just before the area known as “The Cut” without having to cross the Rainbow Viaduct into the city center — meaning you didn’t have to battle with the traffic light sequence heading northbound on 20th from Red Mountain. The left turn onto 1st Avenue South is used less and less though nowadays and signs visible today at the intersection of Arrington and 1st Ave. S. are letting them know those days will soon come to an end.
As the sign contained in the image accompanying this post says, effective Monday, December 15, that one block, also known in recent years as Block 121 for development purposes, will be converted from being a two-way stretch to being eastbound only (read: no left turn). The move does make a great deal of sense as “The Cut” is set to see the completion of its conversion into the western end of the Rotary Trail, making the block safer for pedestrians and they enter and exit the outdoor space. It also makes sense considering recent comments from the new owners of Station 121, the apartment complex formerly called Cityville that sits on the southwest corner of that intersection.
Back when representatives from Wicker Park Capital Management (the company that purchased the property in April) presented the proposed exterior changes to the building to the city’s Design Review Committee earlier this year, they said they were close to securing leases for several of its commercial spaces. Those lease announcements are still pending, but the free parking available for those patronizing those storefronts are accessed via 1st Avenue South. The conversion should make it easier for cars to enter and exit the deck.
Recently there have been many more comments made via online networks like Facebook and Twitter about a seemingly sudden and significant rise in on-street parking rates in Birmingham’s city center. The rates were last raised in 2009, though city officials admitted the changes hadn’t widely gone into effect nearly a year later. Current reports show meter rates have risen to $0.25 for 8 minutes — an increase included in the city’s 2015 municipal budget.
Fees for city owned parking lots have risen at this time and they may be seeing some increased usage as a result of the unavailability of spaces under Interstate 20/59 adjacent to the BJCC complex. The following is a quick round-up of parking meter and city-owned parking deck fees from cities either visited as part of the then Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce’s BIG Trip (as has been done on this site previously) and those currently referenced as peer cities in the Birmingham Business Alliance’s Blueprint Birmingham document for the purposes of comparison.
||Parking Deck/Lot Fee
||$1/hour ($8 daily maximum)*
||$5-7/hour (avg. $20 maximum)
||$3-6/hour (avg. $20 maximum)
||$5-8/hour ($10/12 daily maximum)
||$5/hour ($11-16 daily maximum)
|| $0.50/30 minutes
||$1-4/hour ($12 daily maximum)
||$4/hour ($13 daily maximum)
||$2/hour ($10 daily maximum)
||$3-5 flat rate
||$2/hour ($12 daily maximum)
|Oklahoma City, OK
||$2/hour ($10 daily maximum)
||$4/hour ($10 daily maximum)
||$0.50/hour ($4 daily maximum)
||$1/hour ($6 daily maximum)
||$5 flat rate
NOTE: All on-street metered rates listed above are for that city’s central business district area.
There were some interesting findings as the research was conducted. While there are several parking deck options in Nashville, there are only two municipally owned options in their city center; this would be why the rates included may seem lower than what’s typically encountered while there. It played out that way in several of the cities referenced. Many of the peer cities had also created interactive sites allowing potential customers to know about availability in parking decks. Additionally, it was determined that it’s really difficult to find rates posted online for metered parking in Alabama cities. One question that still remains though based on the necessary shifting of parking options — why does the western end of the Morris Avenue lot still look like this most days?
Posted in transportation
Tagged Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Charlotte, city operated, city-owned, Huntsville, Louisville, Memphis, Mobile, Montgomery, municipal, Nashville, off-street, Oklahoma City, on-street, parking, parking decks, parking garage, parking meter, Pittsburgh, Raleigh
Folks driving into downtown Birmingham along 22nd Street this morning probably noticed a new blue sign or two looking at them as they approached 5th Avenue N. They may have also noticed a lot of folks standing at the corner of 22nd St. and 4th Avenue N., catty-corner from the home of The Birmingham News and AL.com.
Once you saw the buses pulling up – and did a little digging online – it all started to make sense. As of today, all veterans and visitors utilizing the Birmingham, AL Veterans Medical Center located at 700 19th St. South will need to park on the city’s north side and take shuttles to the facility. There is no cost for them to park in the deck according the VA’s website.
As Mike Tomberlin reported in The News back in January, the VA needed to secure new parking options to replace the 799 spaces they leased from Children’s of Alabama. Their new facility – the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children – opened in early August, necessitating the access to the spaces itself.
The VA’s current solution, the Birmingham Parking Authority’s Parking Deck #4, was built in 1984 and contains 673 spaces. According to a response to a question on the medical center’s Facebook page, the move is a temporary one “until the VA builds its clinical annex.”
If the Jefferson County satellite courthouses don’t reopen in the immediate future, odds are when they do they’ll be in different locations.
During a bankruptcy hearing today the Jefferson County Commission was given permission to break the leases on those spaces. The satellite offices have been closed since last April.
As people continue to head downtown to the county courthouse (where long lines may be the norm for some time to come), they may want to be aware of the expansion of the pilot program implemented by the Birmingham Parking Authority last year. During the holidays, additional pay and display meters were installed along the southern edge of Linn Park and in front of the Birmingham Board of Education headquarters.
These join the ones installed directly in front of Birmingham City Hall back in September (as pointed out first by Jeremy Erdreich on his blog Construct Birmingham). They also resemble ones being manufactured and installed throughout our sister city “across the pond.”
The machines take change as well as cash and credit cards. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll have a pay and display on a block near you.
This morning’s Birmingham City Council meeting is already underway as I’m writing this and there are several items on the agenda of interest.
is the first reading of a change to the city code that would alter the look of our city streets. The change would allow our transit authority, the BJCTA, “to advertise on bus stops, benches, and/or shelters” providing a new revenue stream to the agency. The item was withdrawn by Councilor Rafferty because of an addition that needed to be made to the item.
Item 30 would let Mayor Bell enter into a redevelopment agreement with the Alabama School of Fine Arts providing no more than $30,300.00 for “public streetscape and infrastructure improvements and rebate of construction fees in support of ASFA’s expansion project.”
Items 29 & 68 will make those who owe overdue taxes and parking fines respectively at least a little happier. It would allow for an amnesty period (the month of November for taxes; October and November for parking, traffic and other non-moving violations) for people to pay the amounts due without having to worry about the penalties.
Council meetings are streamed live weekly and archived on the city’s website.
Posted in On the agenda, The City
Tagged agenda, amnesty, asfa, BJCTA, City Council, Citywide, parking, support, taxes, theater
One of the more active people on Twitter in recent days in Birmingham, AL is City Councilor Johnathan Austin. He’s recently started live-tweeting portions of the weekly City Council meetings and has given those following his account a chance to get to hear a little more about upcoming projects than folks have been able to in the past.
That would include a tweet late yesterday that included a link to the proposed “front yard parking ordinance” that is scheduled to go before the council for a vote in the near future.
Check it out and share your thoughts down below. They are after all still looking for public input…
Posted in Online, The City
Tagged AL, Alabama, B'ham, Birmingham, draft, front yard, information, Johnathan Austin, ordinance, parking, proposed