Iowa City tests new parking meters as it revamps downtown system - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City tests new parking meters as it revamps downtown system

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Ashley Cuevas of Coralville says she and her family would visit downtown Iowa City more often, if it wasn't for the parking situation.

"When it's busy on the weekends, we don't want to come down, just because having two small children and finding a place to park is hard," she said. 

Iowa City officials say they've heard similar concerns from others.

They say parking is available, but the perception is that it's not.

"A lot of customers have the impression that parking is difficult or hard to find," said Mark Rummel, associate director of Iowa City Transportation Services.

The city has taken feedback from downtown businesses and is now looking at ways to make downtown more driver-friendly.

It starts with new on-street parking meters that the city began sampling Monday -- giving visitors the option to pay with plastic.

"It's a smarter meter than we had before," Rummel said.

"I never have change on me, so being able to use a debit card is great," Cuevas said.

The meters are just part of the picture.

The city is moving closer to allowing drivers to park in downtown ramps free for the first hour.

Officials are also considering increasing parking meter rates, all in an effort to get long-term drivers in the ramps and free up on-street parking.

"We really hope if we can increase the turnover and provide more on-street parking that we can increase the amount of people that come downtown," Rummel said. 

Good news for Cuevas, who would be happy to see some changes.

"We might come down here more often," Cuevas said.

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