Columbia Announces Plan to Upgrade Parking Meters

Parking in downtown Columbia will look a little different come mid-January. The city’s public works department announced Tuesday it will upgrade nearly all of the city’s downtown parking meters.

The project, which comes with a roughly $475,000 price tag, will make each meter payable by coins, a new prepaid card system, or the Parkmobile app.

Of the more than 1,800 meters the city oversees downtown, about 90 percent will receive some sort of upgrade, though about half of existing meters will only get their internal mechanisms reworked.

The 710 meters set for replacement will make way for new meters that serve two parking spots at a time.

“These new meters have increased security. They have better tracking; better auditing data,” said Shay Jasper, of the Columbia Public Works Department. Jasper added the bright LED display will make the new meters easier to read.

The project is scheduled to start start Jan. 7 and finish on Jan. 13 assuming weather conditions are favorable, according to the city. Jasper said January was a good time to get the work done since many of Columbia’s college students are out of town for the holidays.

The new two-spot meters add a step to the payment process for drivers, making sure to select which spot they are paying for. Jasper says the process is “pretty straightforward,” and that the department will “hand out some brochures at the start” to help customers along.

“We feel that our customers will get it,” she said.

The new plan also marks the end of the EZ Park system in Columbia. Replacing it is the CoMo Park Card, which will be a pre-payment option at all of the refurbished meters. Jasper said the new system will be more streamlined and have fewer malfunctions.

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