Bloomington’s transportation commission plans to examine whether the city should expand parking downtown at the expense of one lane of traffic.
City council member Jamie Mathy served on the downtown task force which in 2017 recommended the city eliminate parallel parking along Main and Center streets downtown in exchange for diagonal parking to create more spaces. That move, if the city determines it’s feasible, would mean traffic in that area would be reduced from two lanes to one.
“Downtown, Main Street and Center Street, are not through streets,” Mathy declared. “They are glorified parking aisles. People that want to move through the downtown go around the downtown on East or Madison streets and stay on U.S. (Route) 51.”
The commission is taking comment from downtown businesses, residents and other stakeholders in a 4 p.m. meeting at city hall Tuesday about the possibility of eliminating parallel parking in the 300, 400 and 500 blocks of Main and Center streets.
Mathy owns Red Racoon Games at 309 N. Main St. He said parking complaints have been around as long as the businesses have been there, even though the city has two garages downtown that offer free parking for up to four hours at a time and all weekend.
“There are some people who are not willing to talk a half a block to get to their destination, so there’s a perception of a lack of parking even through there is parking available,” Mathy said.
Mathy acknowledged sometimes it’s his own customers contributing to the problem when he hosts gaming tournaments.
“My players will take up all the spots no matter how many times I say, ‘Look, that parking deck is a block-and-a-half away,'" he said. "There are some people that just won’t walk that far."
Mathy said many business owners don’t believe downtown needs two lanes of traffic and it could be creating safety hazards by encouraging speeders.
The city has laid temporary striping along Main Street. Mathy said the city would like to have a plan in place by next spring when the city applies permanent striping.
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