City officials, residents comment on removal of Main Street parking

City received mostly negative comments; back-in angled parking was part of Pullman’s downtown master plan

The+parking+was+removed+in+accordance+with+an+agreement+between+the+city+and+the+Washington+State+Department+of+Transportation.+

OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

The parking was removed in accordance with an agreement between the city and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen reporter

After receiving mostly negative feedback, the back-in angled parking on Main Street was removed, and the information collected will be used to reevaluate Pullman’s downtown master plan.

“We had a 300 percent increase in cyclists and pedestrians,” said Pullman City Councilmember Brandon Chapman. “The local bike shop, B & L, cannot keep bikes in stock.”

Most of the comments the city received were negative, Chapman said. City officials did not want to assume that the parking would not work and then have what-if questions in the future. 

“We had an email site that people could write their comments in,” said Pullman City Councilmember Eileen Macoll. “Some were lengthy, and some were brief.”

For Pullman residents like Alison Harris, writer of The Civic Scoop, the back-in angled parking was not an ideal experience.

“I’m still not great at backing up and my husband, who is good at it, had a difficult time,” Harris said. “We took up both traffic lanes because we have a truck, and we hit the bike lane barrier.”

Harris said she thinks it would take her several tries to park correctly, and she would prefer pull-in angled parking. 

“What I did like was that Main Street was narrowed down into two lanes,” she said. “It made Main Street feel more quaint, and it slowed down traffic.”

The parking was removed in accordance with an agreement between the city and the Washington State Department of Transportation, Macoll said. Main Street is a state highway system, and any change that is made must be approved by WSDOT. 

“We went all the way through September because we wanted ample time to collect good data, and we also wanted the maximum amount of data,” Macoll said.

The city also wanted the trial to continue through at least one football game, but that could not happen because of COVID-19, she said.

At the beginning of the year, a consultant was hired to help with the downtown master plan, Chapman said. This redesign is intended to revitalize the city and make it more pedestrian-friendly.

“Back-in angled parking is one of the items that was considered high risk, and we thought that it would be a good time to try out because there weren’t as many people here,” he said.

Residents’ ability to eat inside restaurants became limited due to COVID-19. The plan’s original concept was for dining areas to spill out onto the streets, which would encourage people to come downtown, he said.

“We are looking for ways to make the downtown area more comfortable, relaxing and with a village-type feel,” Macoll said. 

The traffic lanes on Main Street went down from three to two lanes to make it safer for pedestrian crossing, Chapman said. The additional lane was transformed into a bike lane.

The increase in foot traffic can stimulate the local economy, Chapman said. The city is still in the beginning stages of planning for the master plan.

“We believe this will be done next year due to the upcoming winter season,” Macoll said. “There will be no visible changes, but we are in the process of initiating workshops for people to discuss the redesign.”

There are no plans for any more temporary parking and the next step will be permanent, Chapman said.