Free Parking on Some Downtown Bridges

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  As the city of Des Moines grows, parking downtown is beginning to change. Earlier this year there were changes to the rates and time lengths of the meters downtown. Now, the city is providing some free parking options on the bridges.

If you see a bright green bag over a meter on a bridge you can park there for free for 24 hours.

Right now, only two of the four bridges are open for free parking, the Walnut Street bridge and the Locust bridge. But in July the Grand Avenue bridge will open up for free parking.

The Court Avenue bridge is still under construction, it will open to traffic by the end of this year but won’t offer free parking until next spring.

This is one phase of the city’s plan to have every meter changed to different hours before the end of the year.

“The meters are changing to charge Monday to Saturday from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. and as part of that change we will see some increase of rates here and there and you will see some lower. So, we are trying to again get some a little bit higher rates, a little bit shorter term meters in the core, as you get further out you can find cheaper meters and you can park for longer,” Des Moines City Traffic Engineer Jennifer McCoy said.

There are 3,500 meters to change over, McCoy said they have already changed about 1,500. Right now, the city is actively changing the meters in the East Village, those changes will be enforced June 4th.

“The city’s new strategy of downtown parking is to create turnover in the core and provide people options a little bit further out if they’re willing to walk either free or cheap parking options,” McCoy said.

McCoy said they are working to match parking with how downtown is changing, “Downtown has become a 24/7 vibrant city and our parking model was set up for a Monday through Friday 8 to 5 downtown. We’re not that kind of downtown anymore so it’s important to make sure that we have a parking system that can support those activities that are happening in our downtown, so our businesses downtown can be successful.”

You can stay at the free bridge parking for a full 24 hours, but the city does have an ordinance that you need to move your vehicle every 24 hours.