COLORADO SPRINGS — Downtown Colorado Springs is growing, yet parking spaces are going away on some of the busiest streets. “We lost 35 spots up and down Tejon Street,” said Colorado Springs Parking Enterprise Director, Scott Lee. Another 35 were lost on Vermijo Street between the Sheriff’s Office and courthouse to make way for a wider pedestrian route.
“We did hear from people,” said Lee. There have been complaints.
Parking spaces are valuable and removing them does not happen without a lot of discussion about pros and cons. Lee said, “The city does weigh those options very closely.” It may seem contradictory, but the parking space elimination is part of dealing with rapid downtown growth.
The expanding and diversifying downtown population requires more options for getting around. “With all the new residential and hotels,” said Mountain Metro Transit Planning Supervisor, Brian Vitulli. People staying in the downtown area are the motivation behind a new free shuttle in the downtown area. “It helps relieve congestion and it really helps people get around better downtown than being tied to their car.”
City for Champions projects like the Olympic & Paralympic Museum and the two new sports stadiums are also part of the reasoning for the new free shuttle. “Take in a CC hockey game, come downtown for lunch, and go back to your car,” said Vitulli. Someone downtown for one event can go enjoy other amenities without moving their vehicle
Adding the shuttle required adding new bus stops on Tejon Street. Each stop needs the the room of three parking spaces. There is a plus and minus equation of sorts behind the trade from parking spaces to bus stops. More people on shuttles lowers the number people looking parking.
Rider numbers from the shuttle’s first three months in operation show steady increases. “There were about 400 to 500 trips during the entire [first] week. Ridership’s been rising every week and we’re now at about 1,500 hundred trips,” said Vitulli.
The spaces taken out by the courthouse made way for widened sidewalks connecting Tejon Street to a pedestrian corridor going to the Olympic and Paralympic Museum. Parking managers point out parking spots were lost on a one block stretch, but more parking spaces were added on other nearby blocks. “We’ve increased. We’re almost at three thousand on street spaces now.” There are also five parking garages with around 2,000 parking spaces.
“We always say in parking. If we don’t have a parking challenge to deal with we probably don’t have a vibrant city and we won’t be existence very long,” said Lee. Parking evolution will continue in downtown Colorado Springs because rapid growth continues.
Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.