Bikeshare rollout delays RFP for management of 800 downtown parking meters

While the city-parish will next week rebid private management of two downtown parking garages, they’re holding off on purchasing some 800 downtown parking meters as the planned bikeshare program brings unforeseen complications.

Some of the 15 to 18 potential downtown bikeshare locations are in loading zones, so transportation officials are in the process of reconfiguring where they want to put the meters. Bikeshare is set to launch next month, on St. Patrick’s Day.

But draft renderings will be ready next Thursday, when the Downtown Development District hosts an open house for locals to see possible meter locations, says DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer, who adds he would rather the meters be implemented correctly than quickly.

Still, Rhorer acknowledges the need for a better managed parking system has grown over time.

“The dynamic of downtown continues to change and grow,” he says, “which makes access to parking even more important for customers, so we need to stay up to date.”

Further complicating the downtown parking situation was the arrest of a man early last year for stealing nearly 80 coin-operated meters. The city-parish has since replaced them with about 60 meters from underperforming areas, says Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel. However, along with Bikeshare and other issues, it’s slowed up officials from issuing a request for proposal for private management of the meters—which needs to happen before the meters can be purchased.

Residents have been scratching their heads since August, when Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration pulled out of a 2016 deal that then-Mayor Kip Holden made with Atlanta-based Park Baton Rouge to manage public parking downtown.

Holden’s plan called for contracting with a single vendor to manage both the garages and meters. But Broome’s revised strategy separates the contract into two, with one private firm managing the meters and another managing the garages.

Six months in the works, an RFP for private management of the two River Center garages will go out in the next week, Gissel says.

“It’s sitting on my desk now,” Gissel said Thursday afternoon. “We’re just trying to clean up some language.”

The open house will take place Feb. 21 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the DDD office on 247 Florida Street.

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