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Residents can now pay for parking through a free smartphone app called ParkMobile. The app allows residents to add time to their meter remotely.

Redevelopment in downtown Colorado Springs is coming with more encouragement to move your car along — new parking meters that connect to your phone via an app.  

The city is replacing the parking meters in downtown and Old Colorado City with smart meters and installing about 350 new meters in areas that were previously free. When all the meters are replaced and the new ones installed, the city will have about 3,000 new smart parking meters, said Scott Lee, parking director for the city.  The city expects to spend about $1.8 million on all the meters, each expected to last about 10 years, he said.    

The new meters are going in along the blocks across from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum on the western edge of downtown to prepare for the additional growth the area will see, including the opening of the new downtown stadium on West Cimarron Street where the Switchbacks will play, Lee said.  

The city is also introducing new meters in the block east of Nevada Avenue between East Vermijo Avenue and West Cimarron Street, an area adjacent to metered parking. 

"We want to fill the gaps and make sure we have metered parking in all the places that it should be,"  said Jennifer Schreuder, a spokeswoman for the city. 

The city was waiting to put in meters east of Nevada between Vermijo Avenue and Cimarron Street until street reconstruction in the area happened, she said. 

Colorado Springs City Council informally approved spending $1.1 million from the parking enterprise reserve on 1,800 meters this week to make sure the parking meter project can continue uninterrupted, Lee said. The project was previously expected to be continued next year, but now it is expected to be done by the end of the year or early next year, Lee said. 

Once the city installs at lest 1,300 new meters it plans to turn on a feature of the smart meters that will allow those with the corresponding phone app, ParkMobile, to find available parking spots. The feature is made possible by in-ground sensors in each parking spot that track whether its occupied or not. The sensors also allow meters to reset when a driver leaves allowing the city resell time paid for by the previous driver to the next driver, he said. Through the new technology, the city can create heat maps to see where drivers are not complying with time limits, he said. 

The city rolled out the new phone app over the summer and about 400 to 500 people per day are using it to pay their parking meter. The app alerts drivers when time is about to expire so they can avoid tickets and don't overpay the meter initially, Lee said. 

"It's great technology. I think it will be a really great thing for us," he said. 

While parking is returning to normal downtown since the stay-at-home order was issued in March, it is following a different pattern, Lee said. Far more people are coming down earlier in the day and the parking garages that used to fill up with office workers are now generally empty above the third deck, he said. 

However, the city has continued to see plenty of tourist traffic, particularly in Old Colorado City, he said. 

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.

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