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Debate Over Parking in Missoula, Montana

Today from the Streetsblog Network, a report from Imagine No Cars in Missoula, Montana, a city that is at a planning crossroads. Missoulians can continue with the familiar strategy of more roads, more parking, more space for cars -- or they can try to envision a different future. The issue heated up recently when an update to Missoula's parking meter system was debated in the city council:

DowntownMissoula.jpgDowntown Missoula: Which way will it go?

Missoula's downtown faces many of the same problems that most downtowns
in America face. One of those problems is dealing with parking. Our
city's long-term planning envisions big growth for our little city over
the next 20 years, especially in our urban core, where a
lot more people will not only come to shop and eat lunch, but also
increasingly come to live. To deal with this growth and the subsequent
need to accommodate more cars downtown, Missoula's Downtown Master Plan
calls for the building of seven new publicly owned multi-story parking
structures at the cost of tens of millions of dollars to taxpayers and
using up precious real estate for the storage of our community's
vehicles.…

Providing alternatives to driving and parking is a
much more cost-effective way to use a community's limited resources.

If you reduce road capacities, congestion is actually reduced
as people find better and easier ways to get around that doesn't
require driving. At the same time, if bicycle infrastructure is
invested in and mass transit increased this will induce demand for
these services as it becomes more convenient. Not only does a community
spend less money to accommodate
locally focused transportation but it frees up real estate when fewer
roads need to be expanded and fewer parking structures built. This
extra real estate can be invested in, creating wealth and jobs in the
local community rather than creating a larger tax bill for city
residents.

It sounds like some in the community are trying to advance those ideas. Is anybody listening?

More from around the network: Orphan Road reports on a proposal for road maintenance fees to actually cover the costs of road maintenance. Biking in LA writes about getting right-hooked by a bus in Santa Monica. And at New Geography, Aaron Renn puts forth a plan for saving Detroit.

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