After the Main Street parking deck closes Sept. 24 for an addition, Gainesville will be offering a weekday shuttle in the morning and afternoon to address the parking shortage downtown.
The shuttle will operate 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, picking up passengers about every 15 minutes at each of the nine stops.
City spokeswoman Nikki Perry said those early morning and late afternoon hours were chosen because those are peak commute times for Brenau University students and people who work downtown. Perry said Brenau has 140 students and faculty at the Brenau Downtown Center on weekdays who are frequent users of the Main Street parking deck.
The shuttle, which will be a free service, will run from Sept. 24 to Nov. 30. Stops on the square will be at the corner of Main and Washington streets near Rahab’s Rope and the Spring Street side of the square at the intersection with Bradford Street.
There will be other stops by the old Gainesville City Hall, the Ramada hotel and Wells Fargo building on Jesse Jewell Parkway, the Hall County Courthouse parking deck, Regions Bank on E.E. Butler Parkway, Grace Episcopal Church on Brenau Avenue and the Northeast Georgia History Center on Academy Street.
There will be about 1,000 public parking spaces available downtown during the closure of the parking deck, including street parking and the lot at St. Paul United Methodist Church on Washington Street, which will open its lot but will not have a shuttle stop.
City government employees will be parking at the Ramada hotel and Wells Fargo building, and Brenau students and faculty will be directed to the Jacobs Building on Brenau’s campus near the Northeast Georgia History Center.
City Manager Bryan Lackey said Thursday the temporary closure of the deck will take away some parking spaces downtown, but the shuttle will allow people to park outside the downtown area and still access everything on the square.
“While it’s going to be a tough time, I think we’re trying to make available a lot of parking spaces that give us some options outside the moat,” he said, referring to the roads around downtown Gainesville, which include E.E. Butler Parkway, Academy Street, West Academy Street and Jesse Jewell Parkway.
The Main Street parking deck will fully close Sept. 24 so two new levels can be added. The deck, which has 419 spots on four levels, will get 180 new spots. Main Street will close to traffic on Sept. 17, when Carroll Daniel Construction will install a crane that will be there until major construction finishes in late November.
Sidewalks will remain open so people can access Main Street businesses.
The first three levels of the parking deck are scheduled to reopen in late November after Thanksgiving, and all six levels should be open by January 2019.
Some construction has already begun on the parking deck, with restrooms being built near the north elevator tower. Demolition on Level 4 of the deck is scheduled to begin Sept. 4.