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New Downtown Houston Parking Program Designed To Keep Traffic Moving

The City of Houston is working on a plan to make it easier to park downtown. Officials say the goal is to keep traffic flowing while drivers look for a spot.


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The City of Houston hopes to add dynamic message boards downtown to give real-time info on available parking.
Gail Delaughter
The City of Houston hopes to add dynamic message boards downtown to give real-time info on available parking.

For people who come downtown in the evening, finding a place to park can be a challenge, especially if they're not that familiar with what's available.

Maria Irshad is Assistant Director of Houston Parking Management:

"We have 90,000 parking spaces in downtown," says Irshad. "It's just customers don't know where they can go, which garage is open, which is safe to park at."

Irshad says finding a space could get a lot easier now that Houston is working on a new parking guidance system. It would use electronic message boards at key locations on downtown streets. They'll point the way to private garages and lots, and they'll let drivers know how many spaces are left. The info could also be made available on a smartphone app.

To help set up the program, Irshad says they'll use a $3.2 million federal grant, money that's earmarked for improving air quality.

"There are studies that show about 30% of vehicles driving around in a downtown are just basically looking for parking," adds Irshad. "And as they're driving around they're emitting exhaust, impacting our air quality."

Officials want to start the program with about seven downtown parking lots. They hope the new system will be in place by the end of next year.


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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

News Anchor

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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