Solutions to parking woes in downtown Baton Rouge could be on the way

App to let drivers know when there's a spot open downtown could be in the works

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - How about this, an app on your phone that tells you where there’s a spot open when you’re trying to park?

That’s part of a costly, but ambitious plan to help drivers when they go to downtown Baton Rouge. Signs of growth and street traffic are visible in downtown, however, one issue that lingers is where people can park their cars.

“Oh, sometimes it’s horrible,” said Davante Lewis.

“If people actually followed the rules downtown for parking, it’d be a lot easier, but since there’s nowhere to park, it’s kind of just like, get in where you fit in,” said Mutaz Abusada.

Abusada the owner of Downtown Grocery on 3rd Street. The delivery truck, which brings goods to his store in the morning, sometimes can’t park in the loading zone where it’s supposed to.

“The loading zone is where it’s supposed to pull up, but it’s always taken up by employees and whoever’s coming downtown,” said Abusada.

This issues forces the drivers to reschedule their regular deliveries completely, which in turn, affects his bottom line.

“It affects my customers because I can’t get my products on time,” he said.

“You’re seeing a lot of energy and action and people moving into downtown, then you also have some issues with parking, so you need to be able to manage those and plan accordingly,” said Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District (DDD).

DDD is working with the city on a three-step process to fix the issue, which includes new parking meters and stations equipped with Flowbird app technology. Rhorer is hopeful this will create more turnover in regards to parking in the area.

"With those meters, you'll be able to pay with credit card, you'll have apps, you'll be able to identify where available parking spaces are on the street, and so that will help with efficiency," Rhorer said.

It could cost roughly $950,000 to implement, but the idea, combined with more parking garages downtown, could be a game changer.

Rhorer says this “absolutely” will bring even more people to downtown Baton Rouge.

On Wednesday, Aug. 14, the metro council will consider a proposal to put River Center Garages under private management, which would essentially give downtown more parking.

The new parking meters with the Flowbird app technology will come up for a vote before the council probably in a few weeks. If the council signs off on the contract, it will take a few months to get everything installed.

Until then, drivers are reminded that the 3rd Street garage is open 24/7 to use when heading downtown.

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