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Back-in diagonal parking resurfaces

An idea to create back-in diagonal parking on the north side of Main Street in downtown Medford seemed to die out several years ago, but city officials are considering bringing it back to life.

“It was put on the back burner,” Councilor Clay Bearnson said. “We’re just trying to figure out if we want to still go down this avenue.”

The Medford Parking Commission will discuss the idea at 8 a.m. Thursday in City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St.

Instead of heading nose-first into a space, motorists would pull past the slots and then back in at an angle, a motion similar to parallel parking. With vehicles backing in, they could pull out head first, providing better visibility for drivers.

Bearnson, who is the council liaison on the Parking Commission, said he supports the idea because it could add a few more parking spaces downtown. But he’s not sure how the city would fund a study to determine whether it’s a viable idea. Also, with the city engaged in a parking management study right now, it might be difficult to study both ideas at the same time.

“It is a moving target,” he said.

In 2013, the Parking Commission prepared a rough design showing how the parking spaces would be configured on Main Street.

The preliminary drawing showed a potential gain of one or two parking spaces in each of the two blocks from Riverside to Central avenues.

East Main would be reduced from three travel lanes to two to accommodate the diagonal parking and to add a bike lane. Reducing the number of lanes would trigger the need for a traffic study and require the hiring of an engineer.

Parking Commissioner George Schroeder, who’s a downtown merchant, said the city has made great strides in improving the parking situation, but he thinks more could be done to make it better.

“Back-in diagonal parking — I’m all for it,” he said. “I’m for any way we can get more, better parking down here.”

Schroeder said a long time ago there was an attempt to put head-in diagonal parking in the downtown. Head-in diagonal parking is a fixture in a lot of cities in the U.S. Back-in diagonal parking is also used in many cities, including Eugene.

Schroeder said the east side of Main Street has a steep incline, so it made it difficult for drivers to see oncoming cars when they backed out.

“It didn’t last long,” he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/reporterdm.