BILLINGS - Billings residents are still getting used to the recently added back-in parking spots and two-lane roads on North 29th Street and North 30th Street in downtown.
According to Mac Fogelsong, city engineer, it was determined that the back-in spots and lane changes will help to create easier access and connectivity to downtown businesses. This finding came from a study conducted in 2018.
Fogelsong said back-in parking spots make it safer for people to exit their vehicle away from traffic, unload their vehicle facing toward the sidewalk and creates a safer way for people to get back into traffic.
Community members who have experienced the new parking spots first-hand are downtown business owners.
Sherry Daly, the owner of Montana Vintage Clothing, said that at first people struggled with parking in front of her store.
“The first couple of days was total pandemonium. There were as many people pulling in as there were backing in. It just looked like one big huge mess,” said Daly.
The back-in spots are labeled “back-in only” due to the danger of having to back out into oncoming traffic if someone was to pull in.
Daly said that from what she witnesses through her store window, as time goes on people are starting to back in more.
She said that her regular customers that were unaware of the change have been “caught of guard” by having to back in.
Daly said that before the construction started she did not expect people to have trouble parking or getting around. She said the change will make it safer for shoppers.
“Some people, I think, just thought that they were doing this to just change things up. That wasn’t the purpose at all. Having two-way traffic is supposed to slow traffic enough to make shopping more accessible and easier. Once people catch onto back-in parking it is so much safer because they can have a better view of what they are pulling out on to,” said Daly.
Danny Kramer, the owner of Yesteryears Antique Mall, said that from what he is seeing, people are adjusting to the change.
He said that his customers have not complained about being able to access his store.
So far the switch to two lanes and back-in parking has only been made on North 29th and North 30th streets. but according to Fogelsong other areas of downtown will soon be undergoing the same construction.