Parking Capacity Study & Strategic Parking Plan Update

February 8, 2018

Buildings on North Main Street in NorwalkThe Norwalk Parking Authority (NPA) oversees and manages more than 4,000 on and off-street parking spaces. The off-street parking spots are in nine facilities including two railroad stations, three garages and six open lots. The Authority started a yearlong planning study late in 2017, the first part of which is to assess the current parking situation in Norwalk.

During the latter half of 2017, the Parking Authority, working with Walker Parking Consultants, conducted research both on the current usage of parking facilities and also gathered stakeholder input to understand the community’s goals and needs. The NPA, through Walker Consultants, held individual face-to-face and telephone interviews and collected data from the downtown districts and the railroad stations through on-the-spot street interviews with commuters and the public. In addition, an online survey was made available for members of the public to provide feedback. Below is some of what was discovered during this phase.

Current Parking Use

In the Wall Street area, occupancy during the week is largest in the Wall Street lot at 73% full. In contrast, the Main Street lot and Yankee Doodle Garage are not as busy with only 47% and 54% occupancy rates, respectively. During the weekend, at midday on Saturday for example, all of these parking areas are equally busy, with an average occupancy rate of 68%.

In South Norwalk, the SoNo train station garage and lot are nearly full on weekdays, an average of 98% occupied. Similarly, the Webster lot also sees high occupancies during the week, about 91% full. The Haviland Garage and Water Street lot are fairly busy with 74% and 78% occupancy rates. The least busy is the Maritime Garage that is only about half full at 52%. In contrast, on the weekend, it is the Water Street lot and Haviland Garages that see more cars, being about 89% and 78% occupied.

Public Surveys

The NPA surveyed commuters in both the South Norwalk and East Norwalk train stations to get an idea of their parking profiles and concerns. In East Norwalk, the majority of commuters surveyed carpooled or took a taxi (53%). For the 23% who drove their own car, most (36%) parked in the temporary lot, followed by the train station southbound lot and the northbound lot.

East Norwalk Station Survey Results

Aerial shot of East Norwalk train station parking lots and pie charts of parking survey results

At the South Norwalk railroad station, the majority of commuters (19%) drove their own vehicle to the train station, followed by either carpooling or taking an Uber or Lyft (both 17%). Of those driving, the majority (85%) parked in the train station garage or lot, only 15% parked on the street.

South Norwalk Station Survey Results

Aerial shot of South Norwalk train station parking and pie charts of survey results

The NPA conducted a public survey at a Norwalk Open House late in 2017 that revealed some parking perceptions. For many who answered the survey, the most important parking issue in both the Wall Street/West Avenue area and in South Norwalk was finding an available space. Interesting to note, however, that respondents said that it takes only 1-5 minutes to find a parking spot in the Wall Street/West Avenue area. For SoNo, it took them 5 minutes or more.

graph charts of South Norwalk Railroad and Wall Street/West Avenue Parking Survey results

The next steps before drafting the parking plan will be to review parking management and operational policies and governance and how they compare to industry best practices. The NPA will also take consider parking capacity solutions, including alternative mobility options and opportunities, such as a shuttle that circulates around town or bike sharing, and parking zoning changes looking at all of the planned citywide development buildout. In addition, a review and recommendation of technology is also in the works. The final goal is to have a plan that achieves consensus and provides a forward-looking blueprint for the future that is responsive to the unique needs of Norwalk. A draft plan for public review is expected later in 2018.

To review a presentation on the status of the Parking Plan, Click Here.

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