New Meters, Rates, Enforcement Planned for Downtown Parking

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

New Meters, Rates, Enforcement Planned for Downtown Parking

Posted: 05/27/2016

As part of a comprehensive approach to managing public parking in downtown Knoxville, the City is installing new parking meters, adjusting rates for on-street and garage parking, and increasing parking enforcement with the goal of providing more turnover in high-demand areas.

“As downtown has revitalized, we’ve seen growing demand for parking from residents, workers and visitors,” said Bill Lyons, Deputy to the Mayor and the City’s Chief Policy Officer. “We have to make sure we are managing our parking resources effectively to balance all of those interests and ensure the continued vitality of our city center.”

In March, City Council approved the purchase of 1,022 new solar-powered parking meters, which will be installed across downtown and the Fort Sanders neighborhood during the coming month. The new meters will accept credit cards or change, and will include sensors that will enable City engineers to track actual usage of street parking spaces.

Along with the new parking meters will come a number of changes scheduled to take effect in July. The overall goal is to encourage short-term use of street parking, which is in limited availability, and long-term parking by commuters and residents in the City’s parking garages. Public garage parking will remain free on weekends and after 6 p.m. on weekdays.

“About 90 percent of our public parking downtown is in garages and City-owned lots,” Lyons said, “so that’s the best option for long-term parking. On-street parking is generally more convenient for short-term visitors to offices, shops and restaurants. We want to ensure regular turnover in those spaces so that they are available to more people each day.”

A rule of thumb for traffic engineers is that on-street parking on any given block should be 85 percent occupied at all times, so that there is always some vacancy. 

Among the planned changes taking effect in July:

-- New meters will be installed throughout downtown, including the length of Gay Street from Summit Hill Drive to Hill Avenue that does not currently have meters.

-- The meters will be in effect Monday through Saturday throughout downtown, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Gay Street and around Market Square, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. everywhere else.

-- Short-term meters will charge $1.50 an hour, with a two-hour limit.

-- Long-term meters (on the north end of the Gay Street Viaduct and along Depot Avenue and South Central Street) will charge 30 cents an hour, with a 10-hour limit.

-- The Public Building Authority, which currently enforces parking hours on Gay Street, will begin enforcement of meters throughout downtown.

-- City-owned garages will continue to be free on weekends and after 6 p.m. on weekdays, and will continue to charge $1 an hour for parking during weekdays. Monthly parking rates at City-owned garages will rise by $5 a month.

-- The monthly parking rate for weekday commuters at the Civic Coliseum parking garage will decrease to $15 a month, from its current level of $20 a month. (New trolley routes provide free service from the Coliseum garage every 7 to 8 minutes on weekdays. The garage is also only a 5-minute walk from Gay Street.)

-- In addition to its downtown enforcement, PBA will enforce meters in the Cumberland Avenue District, between White Avenue and Lake Avenue from 17th Street west to the railroad tracks from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday (but not on home football game days).

-- Any funds generated from parking activities will be used to support parking infrastructure and downtown amenities. For more information about public parking in Knoxville, click here.