Downtown Raleigh will no longer provide free parking

(AP image/Eric Risberg)

The city of Raleigh offers free parking in any of the city's parking garages on nights and weekends, but that's about to change.

Starting Jan. 1, parking will cost downtown visitors $5, and some Raleigh establishments worry the fee will hurt business.

"It's discouraging for people wanting to come downtown," said Carol Hodson, who just visited the Marbles Kid's Museum. "It's detrimental to families, most emphatically."

City parking officials say it's families that they were thinking of when they decided to implement a parking fee. Officials say families and visitors deserve safe and clean garages.

The budding nightlife in downtown Raleigh has resulted in increased trash, broken bottles, and other unsavory items in parking garages. That's what got city council's attention.

"It's only the issue that brought this whole issue of charging nights and weekends to the forefront," said Gordon Dash. Raleigh's Parking Chief. "The fact is, we've needed to charge nights and weekends all the time."

Dash says keeping the garages structurally sound and running costs millions of dollars. According to the city of Raleigh, people used nearly 600,000 parking spots on nights and weekends over the past 12 months.

The city hopes people think the downtown attractions will be worth the extra cost to park.

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