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Does downtown need more parking?

Does downtown need more parking? Seems like a silly question, right? Well, not so fast. It depends on where you want to park.

BID has analyzed the city of Durango’s monthly parking counts for more than nine years. These counts do a great job of showing where parking is available on a monthly basis during the workweek. These counts consistently show there is plenty of parking available Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

In 2022, almost 40% of the nearly 1,000 metered parking spaces were available on average. Of course, this changes in the busy summer months. In July, just under 30% of the spaces were available on average. In January, 52% of the spaces were available. Where are these available spaces located?

The 400, 1000 and 1100 blocks of East 2nd Avenue typically have lots of available parking. Same for these blocks on the east side of Main: 5th, 11th, 12th and 13th Streets. The 600 block of Narrow Gauge Avenue between College and 7th Street also has a good amount of available parking, again on average.

All that applies if you need to come to downtown during the workweek. But what about weeknights and weekends? We do not have counts for these times and days like we do during the week. From my own experience, one easy place to park after 5 p.m. during the week, and all day on weekends, is the Transit Center parking lot. It is free to park there on weekends and weekday evenings. There are also three parking lots on East 2nd Avenue, which are also free after 5 p.m. during the week and all day on weekends. Every parking meter is free after 6 p.m. during the week and all day on weekends. I suggest looking on East 2nd Avenue and Narrow Gauge Avenue toward the north and south end.

In my opinion, the availability of lots of spaces during the workweek led to the recommendation in a recently completed parking study that downtown does not need a parking structure at this time. While it is true that there are on average 200 to 400 open metered parking spaces in downtown throughout the year, those spaces are not where people want them to be located.

A parking structure, while costly, could create a lot of available parking in a central location. The Transit Center was designed and built to one day have a parking structure added to it. The Transit Center sits just a block and a half away from the heart of Main Avenue in downtown Durango. This is the perfect location for a parking structure that downtown has been promised for years.

If you don’t mind walking a bit and are able to do so, then there is enough parking in downtown. But if you are in a hurry, or don’t want to or can’t walk a couple of blocks, then there is not enough parking where you need it. A parking structure solves the problem.