Parking, now with plastic
How to Use an IPS Smartmeter from IPS Smart Meters on Vimeo.
Omaha’s new credit card-accepting parking meters have arrived.
The first 400 of the 1,000 new meters went up Tuesday around the Old Market and near the city and county offices a few blocks west. Another 600 are expected to arrive in mid-May and will replace the old, coin-only meters on streets between those two areas. In total, the project will cost $492,000.
The new, solar-powered meters will take coins or cards (with a minimum of a $1 charge for the card option) and offer the city the ability to get real-time information about which meters are in use or out of order. Ken Smith, the city’s parking manager, says that information will help guide future decisions about parking changes in the city.
No quarters? No problem.
How to Use an IPS Smartmeter from IPS Smart Meters on Vimeo.
Frequent downtown visitors take note: Omaha’s big changeover from coin-operated to card-ready parking meters is two months away.
The City Council has signed off of the $192,000 purchase 400 new meters, which will start showing up in the Old Market sometime in late March. The meters will work with either credit and debit cards or coins.
They’re part of a bigger undertaking to make parking more efficient, which will also include changes to enforcement hours and rates. Those changes, which will be overseen by the city’s new parking manager, haven’t been announced yet.
In the meantime, get ahead of the game by checking out this handy video from the company that makes the new meters. It’s a fairly simple system: swipe the card and then pick how much time you want to stay.
Unfortunately, Omaha’s meters probably won’t come with this video’s built-in soundtrack.
City digs through plowing complaints
I took to Twitter the other day to get your feelings on the city’s snow plow efforts after last week’s blizzard. The reviews are mixed.
It seems as though the city’s arterial streets are largely fine, but the same can’t be said for many residential streets around Omaha. The Public Works Department knows this, and have been trying to work on slick spots — but the little bit of snow that fell this afternoon isn’t helping matters at all.
Mixed results for snow emergency rules
Omaha’s upgraded snow emergency enforcement began Thursday – to the surprise of dozens of drivers who were apparently unaware of the rules.
Reporter Roseann Moring tagged along with a Public Works crew on the hunt for people who had failed to get their cars out of the path of plows. (For those who have forgotten, you’re supposed to park on the side of the street with even-numbered addresses on even days, and odd side on odd-numbered days.)
Many people seemed to be confused about the idea of parking in areas with no-parking signs. But failing to park under those signs (if it was on the proper side of the street) left many with orange envelopes stuck under their windshield wipers. By 5:30 p.m., 170 cars had been ticketed.
Snow emergency to start at midnight
The City of Omaha will declare a snow emergency at midnight, which means you need to pay attention to where you park your car.
Under the snow emergency rules, on even-numbered days, drivers should park on the side of the street with even-numbered addresses (that’s either north or west.) On odd-numbered days, leave your car on the odd-numbered (south or east) side of the street.
Enforcement for this particular storm will start around noon on Thursday. Leave your car on the wrong side and you’ll risk getting a ticket or having your car towed. On residential streets, Public Works crews will likely tow cars to a safe spot nearby.
Vehicles stranded on major roadways, however, will likely end up in the impound lot.
In snow emergencies, city will tow
Let’s say it starts to feel a little more like winter and we get a serious dumping of snow.
The city declares a snow emergency — requiring cars parked east of 72nd Street to be moved to one side or another, depending on the day — and you forget to move your car. Once the storm’s over, you come outside, ice scraper in hand, and the car is nowhere to be found.
Chances are, it’s been moved down the street.
Under plans approved by the City Council this week, Public Works crews can step up their efforts during snow emergencies. Cars left on the wrong side of city streets could be towed to a safe spot nearby, while those abandoned on major roadways will likely be towed to an impound lot.
Council members said they were supportive of efforts to get snow plows through neighborhoods more quickly.
City’s new parking manager is on the job
The city has a new employee in charge of its parking garages, parking meters and anything and everything else parking-related.
He’s Ken Smith, who spent more than a decade doing the same kind of work in Lincoln. Now, in his first week on the job in Omaha, Smith is beginning to sort out the long list of upgrades officials want to make to this city’s parking plan. A few changes are already in the works, including a shift to back-in angle parking in part of the Old Market and the introduction of meters that can be operated with credit and debit cards.
Smith said some of his initial efforts will probably involve adjusting rates at garages and meters, though it’s not clear yet where those changes will happen first and how prices will go up and down. Following on the recommendations of a parking study released earlier this year, officials have talked about upping rates at some high-traffic meter spots and possibly lowering rates in garages.
No change needed for some new meters
The latest in a series of parking-related upgrades downtown: Card-reading meters, likely coming early next year.
The city is taking proposals from meter companies through this week and will make a selection soon after. The new meters will take both cards and coins and will show up first at the spots that get particularly high use. (The city says some meters, notably the 10-hour types around downtown, might not be replaced.)
The decisions about where and when to install the meters will be made in part by the city’s new parking manager, who starts on the job this week. He’ll also be leading other parking changes, sparked by recommendations from a parking consultant hired by the city. Those could include changes to rates and enforcement hours.
Signal. Stop. Reverse. Pandemonium?
A new style of parking has come to parts of downtown Omaha. Some believe this is insane.
It’s called “back-in” angle parking, and as signs posted at a handful of city locations suggest, it requires drivers to back into a stall instead of nosing into it.
This concept is being tested along a portion of Leavenworth Street near 16th and 15th Streets, along a portion of Park Avenue and in a couple other spots around town.
The area around Patrick’s Market and Police Headquarters is the city’s latest showcase for the concept. Howard Street now runs two ways between 14th and 16th Streets, and new back-in spots are a featured element. The idea could extend elsewhere in the near future (think Midtown Crossing or other parts of Farnam Street)
Planners basically want a safer parking option in areas where pedestrians, cars and bicycles tend to mingle.
37,000 sports fans. One city. Is Omaha ready?
Huge sports weekend on its way to the metro
Our pal Erin Golden has an interesting take on the metro’s weekend sports bonanza.
From a traffic point of view, at least, Omaha’s nearly three-week-long stretch as a sports hot spot will hit its apex early next Monday evening.
That’s when up to 24,000 baseball fans will head to their seats at TD Ameritrade Park for what could be the final game of the College World Series. A couple of blocks away, close to 13,000 swimming fans will settle in for the first night of Olympic Swim Trials. Plus, thousands of visitors will fill restaurants and bars in and around the venues and tailgate outside the ballpark.
Will Omaha be ready? Organizers say they are.