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Capitol parking

Cars are parked bumper-to-bumper on Goodhue Boulevard on a recent Tuesday. 

Parking near the State Capitol has long required drivers to bring an inordinate amount of patience – or, perhaps, a lunch.

As more people have moved into the neighborhoods surrounding Lincoln’s tallest building, the parking crunch has only intensified. The scarcity of stalls is amplified when the Legislature is in session, where employees who work in and around Nebraska’s seat of government are joined by those taking part in the legislative process.

Needless to say, an interim study introduced by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks and Syracuse Sen. Dan Watermeier to examine the parking shortage and suggest possible solutions to remedy the problem is welcome news.

One merely needs to look at the numbers to see how unsustainable this situation is.

A 2009 study by the Department of Administrative Services found state-owned garages and surface lots accounted for just shy of 2,000 people – with nearly 300 more on a waiting list. A new lot brought nearly 300 more parking stalls, yet the waiting list has almost doubled in that same time.

Last November, Lincoln officials signed a contract with a consulting firm to analyze the feasibility of building two new parking garages in the city center, including one in the 1300 block of L Street, mere blocks from the Capitol building.

Construction alone, however, won’t solve the problem. Any solution must also include better enforcement of the existing rules for street parking.

Many of the stalls in the vicinity of the Capitol have a sign denoting for how many hours vehicles can stay parked. Yet, Journal Star newsroom employees – given that many live in and/or frequently work in that vicinity – have often noticed how many cars don’t move in the allotted time.

At times, vehicles exceed the plainly stated time limit by several hours and escape without a ticket. Unlike before, the best evidence we can provide on this is anecdotal, but it’s something members of the editorial board have seen with their own eyes.

Just as is the case with the parking meters in the blocks north of the Capitol, those time limits are designed to ensure parking spaces turn over frequently enough to prevent the very issue being seen today.

More aggressive enforcement of those rules produces an incentive to follow them. Don’t want a ticket? Don’t overstay the time posted on the sign.

After years with little development on this front, recent action at both the city and state level is encouraging. As the number of workers and residents in this area is forecast to only grow, a sound strategy to increase the amount of available parking near the Capitol is imperative.


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