Paid parking will be arriving on and around South Congress Avenue this spring after years of planning around parking management in the lively commercial district.

How we got here

The Austin Transportation Department and community stakeholders have been considering parking and mobility strategies for the South Congress corridor since the late 1990s. ATD officials had planned to move forward on a paid parking plan and the creation of a Parking & Transportation Management District, or PTMD, to support local infrastructure improvement years ago, but that work stalled through the pandemic.

The context

South Congress has seen plenty of new development and business arrivals recently. Visitors, residents, and local shop and eatery owners alike have told city officials for years that the area's current parking system is not sustainable, often leaving neighbors or business employees without a place to park and competing for coveted spaces.

As most of the district features unregulated parking, the ATD found many parking restrictions are inconsistent and often abused by visitors without a standard parking system and enforcement.

Austin already has PTMDs in West Campus, Mueller, the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood and along the north shore of Lady Bird Lake downtown. Those districts generate millions of dollars each year the city can use for mobility upgrades.

The creation of a new PTMD with both paid and permit parking options was supported by the South Congress Improvement Association, the South Congress Merchants Association and the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association.

What's next

City Council voted to establish the South Congress PTMD March 9.

Officials with the city transportation department said the paid parking and local permit program will roll out in April with at least 100 paid spaces. As in the rest of the city, parking fees will begin at $2 per hour and gradually ramp up as time goes on.

ATD said the new PTMD is expected to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to fund local mobility improvements on South Congress and throughout the surrounding South Austin neighborhoods. Upgrades could include sidewalks, curbs, lighting, intersection improvements and more.

"Anything transportation-related that will help facilitate the movement and mobility within a geographic area, those funds can take care of," said Jason Redfern, Austin's parking enterprise manager, during a March 7 meeting of the Urban Transportation Commission.