New Columbia proposal makes disabled drivers pay for parking

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The city of Columbia could soon add parking meters to downtown handicap spots, making them pay the same rates as other drivers. During Monday's council meeting, members are set to discuss the new proposal.

Officials say one reason is to increase accessibility. They plan to add eight ADA spaces on or just off Broadway because only two spots exist on the street now. And adding parking meters could offset the cost.

In January, the Columbia Disabilities Commission passed a motion supporting metering disabled parking spaces. An estimated $80,000 will be needed to add curb ramps, signs and paint along Broadway and purchase parking meters. Half of the cost will come from the commission's budget.

Adding parking meters to these spaces may also prevent disabled parking fraud. Chuck Graham, the Disabilities Commission Chair, said this happens somewhat often, but it is hard to enforce.

Meters have changed since they were banned in 1994. Now you do not have to pinch and turn a knob, so they are easier to operate. Officials say they do not think the new meters should cause any difficulty to disabled drivers.

Cities like St. Louis, Washington D.C., and Indianapolis are just a few that recently began to require metered spaces for the disabled.

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