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Iowa City Introduces 'First Hour Free' Parking Program

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Changes are about to take place for parking patrons in Downtown Iowa City, with the introduction of a "First Hour Free" program that will provide patrons one hour of free parking in four of the downtown area parking ramps. Beginning July 1, the City of Iowa City's Transportation Services Department will introduce the program in the following parking ramps:

• Capitol Street (adjacent to Old Capitol Mall)
• Dubuque Street (adjacent to the Sheraton Hotel)
• Tower Place (Iowa Avenue)
• Court Street Transportation Center (mid-July)

Transportation Services Director Chris O'Brien explains that when the new program is implemented on July 1, the cost will be just $2 for parking in the ramp for three hours -- the first hour is free, followed by a $1 per hour charge for each of the following two hours. The current rate is $2.25 per hour. First Hour Free parking will be available in designated downtown ramps only; on-street metered parking will not be included in the program.

The First Hour Free program is a result of almost a year's worth of meetings between the City Manager's Office, City of Iowa City Transportation Services Department, Iowa City Downtown District, business owners, and residents. The proposal that was ultimately approved by the City Council was unanimously endorsed earlier by the Board of Directors of the Iowa City Downtown District, which identified parking challenges as one of their top priorities.

In addition to First Hour Free, beginning today, Thursday, June 27, Transportation Services staff will start the installation of new smart meter signage on downtown parking meter polls. This will be followed up by the installation of 1,150 new solar powered smart parking meters to replace the existing 12 year old models on Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30. These new units will be ready for operation with the start of business Monday, July 1 and will accept credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover), as well as coins, for payment.

The new meters, manufactured by Duncan Parking Technologies, were the most popular pick of Downtown shoppers, employees, students, and visitors who tested five different styles during a two-week trial period in April. The smart meters will also offer state-of-the-art technology that can provide important data for patrons in the future, including occupancy information in different zones, as well as technology that will aid in future planning and resource management within the Transportation Services Department.




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