FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Parking meters will switch on for the first time Thursday morning in Fort Worth’s popular West 7th district.
The meters will be the first in the city to use adjustable pricing, that can change based on the location, time of day and demand for space.
About 250 currently free spaces will be affected by the change. The move is the city’s latest attempt to control traffic and crowds from a surge in residents, restaurants and bars.
Prices will start at $1 an hour from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a two-hour time limit. The price will increase to $2.50 an hour from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
The city could adjust rates, however, on a weekly basis by as much as 25 cents, up to a maximum of $4.50.
“When the prices go up, people will seek to make the best possible solution for themselves,” said Peter Elliott, the city’s parking manager. “Which could possibly mean, parking in a pay lot, parking in a garage.”
Surface pay-to-park lots are located in the district, along with garages for business in Crockett Row. The garage spaces however, are only for customers of associated businesses, and the development will tow cars if drivers are seen walking to other businesses in the area.
The meters follow a change earlier in the year to one-way streets. Both are intended to keep traffic flowing, especially during crowded evening hours.
Hillary Biediger who owns Juice Junkies on Foch Street, said she’s curious to see how the new pay to park plan affect a business dependent on quick walk in customers.
“My customer’s mentality, some of them are like, that whole area is just crazy now,” she said. “With all the traffic, and the one way streets, and now they’re going to meter the parking.”
Biediger’s business is located in a development that has private parking available. She said business has started dropping off though over the past year, as the character of the district has changed.
With the addition of meters, West 7th joins the downtown business district, the medical district, cultural district and a few streets around TCU as the only places with paid parking.
Elliott stopped short of saying the variable rates would move to other parts of town though. The city would need to take a look at the data, before considering the same move in other places.
West 7th still has more changes ahead. Sidewalk improvements are scheduled for the fall. A circulator bus route will be active in the spring, and major infrastructure improvements along 7th Street are also being planned.