Homeowners near new Duluth East High School turn to permit zones to secure on-street parking

New parking permit zones near Duluth East High School may force drivers to find other areas to park. Photo Credit: Ethan Walker Parking always seems to be an issue for Duluthians, and it isn’t going to get any easier. This is especially true for neighborhood residents near the new East High School.

The City of Duluth Department of Public Works is considering using a parking permit system in the neighborhoods surrounding the new East High School. Their hope is to help control traffic and make sure parking will always be available for home owners once school begins.

According to a Public Works Commission survey sent to area homeowners of the school, the boundaries of the new parking permit zones will be two 6-by-8 block areas. Permit zones will stretch from 40th Avenue and London Road to 44th Avenue and McCulloch Street, as well as on Superior Street from 36th to 40th Avenue. The commission is also looking into including Rockview Court and Greysolon Road as permit parking zones.

“We want to make sure the area is big enough right away so we don’t push the problem to another block,” Senior Engineering Specialist Steve Goman said. “We want to make sure the home owners have a place to park, as well as keep their neighborhoods safe from the traffic.”

Safety is a main concern once school starts because of the increased amount of teenage traffic around the area. Goman worries about students trying to take shortcuts through alleys and side streets to beat traffic which could possibly hurt pedestrians.

Homeowners may need to keep a watchful eye on their roads and drivers more often now, but they certainly won’t have to worry about their pocketbook. According to Goman, a one-year parking pass for homeowners will cost only five dollars per car, but are limited to three cars per household.

Map of the parking permit zone. Courtesy of: Luke Wieneke

Visitor permits, also good for one year, will be available for two dollars per car. They will even be offering 24-hour permits for just a dollar.

“The nice thing about the one dollar permits is that they are easily obtainable for graduation parties, and they offer many people a place to park near your house without having to worry about students zipping up and down your road,” Goman said.

The parking zones will have time restrictions. In most other neighborhoods, permits are enforced from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Goman is exploring extending the length of permit enforcement in the areas closer to the school.

“We are looking at extending the time in a smaller area within the zone,” Goman said. “Because there will be many events on the East campus, we need to make sure that the spots won’t be taken from homeowners later at night.”

The new high school predicts having large crowds at events with many of the school’s enrolled students attending, along with parents and staff. According to the Duluth Public Schools web page, as of April 2011 the total enrollment for all kids who would be going to the new high school (grades 9-12) is 3,084. Such a large student population means high traffic around the school, which could potentially turn Superior Street into the equivalent of a freeway during rush hour.

Goman estimated about 350 parking spaces on the new East campus are designated for students and faculty. Based on the projected enrollment, this low number of spots will only allow for 22 percent of incoming juniors' and seniors' cars within these lots.

Due to the limited number of parking spaces at East High School, students might need to look for alternate transportation based on where they live and where they need to go. Goman emphasized the Duluth Transit Authority and traditional school buses as convenient modes of transportation. He also noted that both options would help with decreasing traffic  for other travelers around the school.

The permit zones will extend to 44th Avenue and McCulloch Street, as well as Superior Street from 36th to 40th Avenue. Photo Credit: Ethan Walker

Goman has even looked into parent rides to school in an effort reduce traffic and create more parking spaces for faculty and other students.

The Duluth Transit Authority website and Voyageur Bus Company both insure that the bus system will be easy to follow, as all buses will run on Superior Street to and from the new high school. Goman expects the buses to be used by students more than ever this year, because driving will be tough for many parents and students.

Arik Forsman, a new homeowner within the permit zone, hopes to see the ordinance put in place soon.

“We are excited for the new school, but we worry about kids speeding up and down the alleys and roads,” Forsman said. “We also don’t have a garage, so we need to have space for our vehicles.”

Forsman is one of many in the neighborhood that agrees with the planned ordinance. Goman said that of the surveys that have come in, those who favor the ordinance outweigh those who don’t ten to one. He believes the survey results will make the choice for the city council much easier to make.

The city council will review the ordinance during their May 9 meeting, where they will hold a public hearing to discuss the issues of parking permits and the school. If there are no objections, the ordinance will be put to a vote.

In the event the ordinance passes, the council will move to another public hearing to discuss and vote on the finalized zones and enforced time restrictions of permit areas. They will also discuss plans for signage and how to issue the permits to the resident homeowners.

“We expect to have about 250 signs up in the area if the ordinance passes,” Goman said. “We will have two per block per side so people are always aware they are within the permit zone.”

If the ordinance passes, it will be carried out in time for the upcoming school year, with hopes of providing residents with a smooth transition into the busy lifestyle of the new East High School.

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