Downtown Florence/UNA parking woes may be solved

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FLORENCE, Ala. – After months of research and evaluating the numbers, the city of Florence is ready to tackle some parking problems.

Between the midday hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. there are generally no parking spaces to be found.  Add several hundred students from the University of North Alabama spilling over into downtown parking spaces and the problem gets multiplied.

“We’re not going to have the parking problem anymore, because the frustration in having to deal with it will be more than a visitor, a citizen, a shopper, a student will want to handle,” said Florence Planning Director Melissa Bailey.

The university and city of Florence teamed up to commission a study, in order to find a solution.

To meet current demand, the city must add 300 additional parking spaces downtown. The university needs 500 on campus.

“Immediately you think we have to build more capacity, and that’s not always the case,” Bailey explained. “There are some high-impact sort of low-cost alternatives.”

The city is looking at changing parallel parking spaces along Tombigbee Street to angle parking. That could add several dozen spaces. They are also looking at a change to existing parking meters.

“Maximum parking times at the metered spaces; making sure we have great enforcement as well,” said Bailey.

UNA is already looking at adding 300 spaces behind Flowers Hall this fall. But to meet current demand, they will have to look deeper.

The city of Florence is also looking at extending a one-way street along east Mobile to add more angled parking.

UNA is also developing plans for additional pocket parking lots around the campus for added spaces.