PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — It’s something Zach Oyler says he’s been hoping to hear for years — no more back-in parking in Downtown Peoria.
At their Tuesday night meeting, the Peoria City Council voted unanimously to spend $75,000 to sealcoat three stretches of road in Downtown, all of which have the almost universally disliked back-in parking.
“It was meant to be safer, to try something different that might allow folks to get out of a car towards the building rather than the street but it has really just caused confusion and challenged parking downtown. I would say frankly it’s made it more unsafe,” said the At-Large Councilman.
Added his colleague, Chuck Grayeb, who presents Downtown on the council: “It was unpopular and not very friendly to visitors to our Downtown. We did a little test on it and the testing period has ended. We didn’t get very good reviews on it.”
Back-in parking was started several years ago as a “well-intentioned” idea to protect motorists and passengers, both Grayeb and Oyler said. The idea was simple: Back in a vehicle into a spot and passengers, usually children, would be closer to the curb than the street.
The council approved the measure on a “test basis” and converted Fulton Street near City Hall, and Monroe and Madison streets in between Fulton and Main to diagonal, back-in parking. In total, there were probably less than 50 spots in the Downtown.
Quickly, the reality set in that people didn’t like it, the maneuver was “too difficult,” and it wasn’t widespread enough for people to get accustomed to it, they both said. Oyler said he’s been getting emails and calls since he first ran for office in 2017 to eliminate the back-in parking.
Rick Powers, who heads the city’s public works department, said his staff will slurry seal the three stretches of road this fall and then restripe the road. The impetus was two-fold. One, completely put a new blacktop surface on the road to get rid of the back-in parking lines completely so there’s no confusion.
“If you don’t, then we have to pressure wash them off and there’d still be a remnant of a line,” he said. “Now, when you pull on that road, you’ll have to really work to back in, It’ll be very obvious that it’s pull in parking.”
The other reasoning was the pending conversion of Adams and Jefferson streets from one-way to two-way roads in Downtown. With that roadwork, more traffic will be diverted onto side streets and a new surface is another way to extend the lives of those streets until dollars are freed up to replace or more substantially repair them, Powers said.
Grayeb thinks this is one more way to make Downtown more attractive, saying he hopes the move should help make the area more friendly to those who want to shop, live and work in the area.
“This will definitely will be more attractive, It’ll mean we will not have to hike up Mt. Everest to park,” he quipped.