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BPA Unveils Plans to Remake Agency, Downtown Parking

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BPA Executive Director and CEO Andre Davis at a press conference announcing the Strategic Parking Plan. (Ryan Michaels, The Birmingham Times)

By Ryan Michaels

The Birmingham Times

The Birmingham Parking Authority on Thursday announced an “ambitious” plan to remake the agency and create a new way of off-street and on-street parking that includes apps that help drivers find, reserve and pay for parking using a smartphone or other devices.

“The process we are launching is deliberate and extremely ambitious,” said BPA Executive Director and CEO Andre Davis at a press conference. “What we are creating is a whole new Birmingham Parking Authority. We are committed to making parking more convenient, safe, seamless and efficient.”

Creating a new agency has three goals as part of a Strategic Parking Plan, Davis said. Those include supporting economic growth through partnerships and projects; creating a unified parking experience that aligns off-street and on-street parking; and utilizing technology, such as apps that allow drivers to find, reserve and pay for parking using a smartphone or other device.

The plan, which could be developed over six to eight months, will produce a different organization, Davis said.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said “efficient parking has to be a part of the continued growth for the city center.”

“We welcome the collaborative spirit of Andre Davis and the Birmingham Parking Authority board,” Woodfin said. “Their willingness to work with the city and with businesses will advance the economic development and livability goals of Birmingham. Parking is essential to a thriving downtown as we continue to see new business and residential developments. The strategic plan will add to the momentum that has been created.”

Birmingham City Council Transportation Chair Darrell O’Quinn said parking infrastructure has been “at the top” of a list of issues to address since he first took office in 2017. “We’ve been able to achieve some progress there. But there’s a lot more to come,” said O’Quinn, who added parking is “critical for the city’s growth” and hopes partnering with the BPA for developing a strategic plan can help simplify parking in Birmingham.

“Being able to be accessible to folks who want to visit the city, and all of the components of how we park, it should work together, whether it’s on the street, or in a parking deck or in a private lot … needs to be integrated. And that’s one of the things that we hope to accomplish through this strategic plan,” O’Quinn said.

The BPA, first established in 1972, operates seven parking decks and three surface parking lots in the downtown and surrounding areas, with a capacity of more than 8,000 spots. The City of Birmingham manages on-street parking, and there are close to 200 private parking lots in the downtown area.

Surveys for BPA parking users, permit holders and business owners are available at https://bhamparking.com/plan. Residents may also call (205) 321-7050 to share feedback for the new plan.

For more information, go to www.bhamparking.com.