GRAND RAPIDS — With the Grand Center parking ramp ready to be demolished this week, the city’s Parking Services Department has added another shuttle bus to its downtown DASH West system.
The Grand Center ramp is being razed as part of the $219.5 million expansion of the convention center. The loss of those spaces can’t be solely made up at the Government Center ramp, because much of that facility is already leased to monthly parkers.
But Parking Services Director Ted Perez told the Convention and Arena Authority last week that the additional shuttle has the potential to ease some of the parking problems that may arise downtown, especially during trade shows at the city’s convention facility and during jury trials at the nearby Hall of Justice.
“We’re trying to get the word out on what to expect and what steps someone might take to avoid the worst of it. Beyond that, we’ve added an additional bus during the middle of the day. The significance of that is the city’s sole source of surplus of parking exists on the west side of the river in an area we designate as DASH West, and it’s that available space that we’re trying to put into play,” said Perez.
Shuttle rides originate at DASH West, a large lot on Mount Vernon NW between Bridge and Pearl streets. The daytime park-and-ride service costs $1 a day or $16 a month. Perez said ridership was good early last week after the ramp closed on April 23.
“If Monday and Tuesday were any indication of what conditions will be like with a dark Grand Center, we’ll probably survive the next three years reasonably well,” he said.
The new underground ramp for the revised convention center is expected to open by early 2004, when the expansion project is completed. In September, another 60 spaces will become available in the Government Center ramp when the city police department moves to its new headquarters in the former City Centre building at Monroe Center and Division.
As for the utility work connected with the Grand Center project, the intersection of Monroe and Michigan should re-open to traffic in June. But then similar work will begin at Monroe and Pearl, which will close that intersection for about two months.
The Midtown parking ramp being built by Ellis Parking Co. will open in September. The following month the city plans to begin construction on its new ramp on Louis Street between Ottawa and Ionia. That ramp will take about 15 months to build and should open by December 2002.
“The recently developed parking structures are also aesthetically pleasing, as pleasing as a parking structure can be,” said CAA Chairman Steven Heacock. “And that’s greatly appreciated.”