HOUSTON -

Parking can be a nightmare in downtown Houston, but there's something new that the city says will make it easier for you to find a parking spot and avoid a pricey ticket.

Mayor Annise Parker Tuesday launched the Downtown Parking Signage Project to simplify the downtown parking system. The mayor says the project will improve signage, meters, mobility lanes, commercial zones and parking communications to make parking easier for the 20,000 to 30,000 patrons that park downtown each day.

"This new project will re-vamp the parking system in one of the busiest and most frequented areas of Houston," said Mayor Annise Parker. "Parking downtown will soon be less stressful and confusing for tens of thousands of residents, workers and visitors each day. We've done the research, we see the issues and we're doing something about it."

The need for an overhaul of the downtown parking system was a result of a comprehensive survey conducted by the Houston Downtown Management District in 2012. The survey revealed that of about 3,200 parking signs, there are more than 108 different parking messages.

Based on a committee's recommendations, the following changes will take place over the next year:

  • Reduce sign types and eliminate totem poles with multiple signs (from more than 108 signs to 22)
  • Implement 24/7 Commercial Zones to prevent confusion
  • Implement consistent parking meter time limits of 3 hours; rates are analyzed for high demand areas
  • Implement parking meter bag color coding: Red for no parking, blue if parking is available under special conditions
  • Reduce or eliminate mobility lanes where the Traffic Engineer determines it is feasible
  • Implement a public relations campaign to educate public on parking

The project is expected to be completed in summer 2014. The Central Business District was divided into three geographic zones; work has begun in Zone 1 and will continue until all work is complete in the three zones.