More parking could help liven up sleepy Main Street

Tigard Mayor John L. Cook performs a drive-by ribbon cutting as he parks the first car in a new parking lot at the corner of Burnham Street and Main Street. The parking lot is the first in several construction projects planned for the street over the next two years.The city of Tigard has a lot of things it wants to do with its downtown, but first it needs a place to park.

For years, parking in the city’s small downtown core has been difficult, with employees taking up what few parking spaces are available.

But the new parking lot, built at the corner of Main Street and Southwest Burnham Street, adds a much-needed 20 parking spaces to the heart of the city.

“It may look like a parking lot, but I see Tigard’s commitment to economic development in downtown Tigard,” said Mayor John L. Cook on July 10. “This parking lot provides free parking for shoppers and downtown employees. Every day, this lot will be filled with people spending and making money in Tigard.”

The parking lot was a must-have before major construction could begin to improve Main Street.

The city has big plans for the road, including wider sidewalks, “green” landscaping and new lighting.

The hope is to make downtown more pedestrian friendly and to stop commuters using the road as a shortcut around the often-congested Pacific Highway.

The city promised business owners that the street would remain open during construction and would build the new parking lot prior to construction, which is set to break ground next summer.

“The city delivered on its commitment to provide additional, convenient parking before the Main Street Green Street project gets under way,” Cook said.

Parking on Main has long been the topic of discussion.

When construction was done to Burnham Street in 2010, the city made sure to add more parking spaces along the road. Officials also considered taking out the downtown’s angled parking in favor of traditional parallel parking, but opted not to because it would have cut even more spaces from the road.

"If your employee isn't walking, your customer is,"' parking consultant Rick Williams told the City Council in 2011, saying that a city's main street needed not only ample parking in addition to a mix of interesting shops and amenities in order to be successful.

“Bumping into a window that's interesting, seeing a traffic light that's historic looking, a curb cut that extends out into the street," Williams said. "They aren't physically bumping into them, but it creates that messy vitality that's vital, active and interesting … You create an interesting walk from wherever you park to wherever you're going.

"And hopefully, the businesses along that walk will create that vitality within their own windows as well."

The new parking lot features native plants, LED lighting and storm water treatment. Charging stations for electric vehicles will be installed soon, according to Kim McMillian, the city’s engineering manager.

For more on Main Street and what's to come, click here .

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