Houston – Today, Mayor Annise Parker kicked off the implementation of a brand new Downtown Parking Signage Project to de-clutter and simplify Houston’s downtown parking system. The project will improve signage, meters, mobility lanes, commercial zones and parking communications to make parking easier for the 20,000 to 30,000 patrons that park downtown each day.“This new project will re-vamp the parking system in one of the busiest and most frequented areas of Houston,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “Parking downtown will soon be less stressful and confusing for tens of thousands of residents, workers and visitors each day. We’ve done the research, we see the issues and we’re doing something about it.”The need for an overhaul of the downtown parking system was a result of a comprehensive survey conducted by the Houston Downtown Management District in 2012. The survey revealed that of about 3,200 parking signs, there are more than 108 different parking messages. In addition to numerous and often times confusing signage, other issues such as meters, mobility lanes, commercial zones and a lack of effective communication hinder customer-friendly parking.”Parking has always been a hot button for visitors as it is the first and last impression they have of downtown,” said Bob Eury, executive director of the Downtown District. “Making the parking experience as easy and customer-friendly as possible is the goal. We also hope to educate patrons that on-street parking is for short-term parking and there are a variety of off-street options, garages and surface lots if you are planning a longer stay.”Mayor Annise Parker directed a committee comprised of the City of Houston’s Parking Management Division of the Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department, the Traffic Operations Division of the Public Works and Engineering Department and the Houston Downtown Management District to develop a practical plan to address the downtown parking issues.Based on the committee’s recommendations, the following changes will take place over the next year:Reduce sign types and eliminate totem poles with multiple signs (from more than 108 signs to 22)Implement 24/7 Commercial Zones to prevent confusionImplement consistent parking meter time limits of 3 hours; rates are analyzed for high demand areasImplement parking meter bag color coding: Red for no parking, blue if parking is available under special conditionsReduce or eliminate mobility lanes where the Traffic Engineer determines it is feasibleImplement a public relations campaign to educate public on parking “These recommendations are sound and put us on a positive track toward not only simplifying parking for drivers, but also promoting safety in the area, enhancing access and mobility, and supporting economic development,” said Parker. “This project and the recently launched Washington Corridor Parking Management District are the clearest examples of the new direction the City is taking toward improving parking. Houstonians can expect to be involved in future projects that will focus on addressing parking issues based on the needs of their community. The City is committed to using Parking Management as a customer service and economic development tool rather than simply installing meters and writing parking citations.”The work on this project is a collaborative effort between not only the committee partners but also the Houston Police Department and many other stakeholders in the downtown area.The Downtown Parking Signage Project completion is targeted for Summer 2014. The project is being implemented using a phased approach across downtown. The Central Business District was divided into three geographic areas. Work has begun in Zone 1, and will continue until all work is complete in the three zones. See attached for a map of the zones.City Council approved the funding for this project earlier this year and preliminary work began this summer.