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JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City may get a new parking garage soon to address a shortage in downtown parking.

Jefferson City contracted with Rich and Associates last year to update the city's Parking Planning Study from 1999, which focused on the downtown area. 

The study found the downtown area is short almost 1,500 parking spaces. 

Britt Smith, operation division director for the Department of Public Works, said the city is working to reduce that number.

"One of the challenges that we have in our downtown is the topography, the hills," Smith said. "We are looking to provide additional parking close to the downtown area around the Capitol and in our business district of High Street." 

Currently there are 9,596 parking spaces in the downtown area, 2,800 of which are public spaces. Drivers pay to park in all of the spaces. The city controls 29 percent of the parking and the rest is controlled by the state or private companies.

Smith said a new garage would allow the city to have a larger share of the parking and address the significant shortage.

"If we increase the number of spaces we have, it will not only close that deficit but it's also going to increase our percentage of the pie," he said. 

Jefferson City resident David Humphrey said the garage would be good, but he has some concerns. 

"It is good that they are thinking about adding more parking, but I hope that they wouldn't tear down any buildings to make it," he said. 

Smith said the garage planning is in the preliminary phase but he hopes to get a 400-vehicle garage. 

"We're going to be looking for vacant space as much as possible," Smith said. "Maybe it's an existing parking lot or just vacant ground that we can build a garage on." 

Smith said the new parking could promote businesses downtown.

"The more visitors we have the more people are eating lunch or shopping within downtown," Smith said. "By providing some additional parking, we think that we can spark that growth as well." 

The city will soon conduct a feasibility study for a new parking garage, which would help determine if the location, construction and operational costs.

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