Parking in Hartford at Any Price?

A few minutes in most American city centers will be enough to confirm the impression that even urban areas built long before the automobile have since been redesigned to cater to the car. And one of the most important but overlooked aspects of that – with ramifications for everything from new development to tax revenue – is as essential to automobile traffic as a steering wheel: parking.

Courtesy of Google Maps

In a pair of new studies conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scholars at UConn and the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI), researchers examined the physical changes in six city centers around the U.S. between 1960 and 2010 and their impact on municipal revenues.

Among other findings, the researchers concluded that the common practice of requiring a minimum number of parking spaces to be attached to new development – a requirement in a majority of American cities – can inhibit development, fragment the city, and make traffic worse by suppressing people’s ability to walk, bike, or take transit.

When measuring the amount of space given to parking – both on-street parking and garages – the researchers found that tax revenues for that real estate tend to be much lower than for other types of development. The net effect is that cities forego tax money with every parking spot they require: in Hartford, for example, the researchers calculated that the city forfeits $1,200 per year per parking space.

“This amounts to a subsidy of more than $50 million per year for all the parking in downtown Hartford,” says Norman Garrick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “To put this number in perspective, all the real estate downtown contributes just $75 million in municipal revenues each year. In contrast, the subsidy for parking in downtown Cambridge, Mass., amounts to just over $1 million per year on municipal revenues of $50 million.”

Read the full story at UConn Today.

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