Main Street bridge parking to stay, for now

imberly Dick

The parking configuration on the Main Street bridge, added this summer, will remain the same for now despite complaints from residents.

Kent City Council’s health and safety committee voted Wednesday to keep 17 parking spaces on this downtown bridge through the original two-year trial period.

The Parking Action Committee recommended not to remove a couple spaces at the west end of this lot, which would allow more room in the turning lane to Gougler Avenue.

“Let it go for a little while longer to see how it goes and how the community deals with the change,” said Dan Smith, a member of the committee.

The right turn lane, which has been shortened by this lot, was an important factor in this decision.

“Not having a constant flow of vehicles in the right turn lane has cut down on the speed of vehicles making a right turn on red,” said Safety Director William Lillich.

Pedestrians and bicyclists have said they felt safer in that intersection because they don’t feel threatened as much by the quick right turns.

The number of spaces may be changed in the future to allow vehicles to align into the right turn lane, he said.

This bridge parking lot was approved in October 2004, and has brought much controversy since being installed a couple months ago.

Residents, such as John Bard, are against this lot because it could be dangerous, especially with railroad activity.

“It’s a bridge; it’s a utility,” he said. “It’s meant to get from point A to point B. Just remove the lines.”

Parking was added on the bridge to attract businesses and consumers to downtown Kent. It provided a low-cost solution compared to adding a parking deck or surface lots.

Smith said he doesn’t expect this to be the end-all, catch-all, but the committee just thought the cost of doing nothing is much greater than using new and innovative ideas.

Safety and other issues caused by this lot will still be examined, and city council is planning to revisit it at a later date.

Contact public affairs reporter Kimberly Dick at [email protected].