Some people in Provo have noted with dismay that the area surrounding the soon-to-open commuter rail station is turning into a vast and miserable parking lot. It’s shaping up to be a pretty stark and unpleasant place:
This parking lot is being constructed because commuter rail in Utah County will operate under a park-and-ride model, meaning it’s intended for users who will drive to stations then hop on trains to final destinations. The use of that model is in part a result of Utah County’s relatively low population density, car dependent cities, and resultingly sparse public transit.
No one hates parking lots more than I do, but thankfully Provo may not actually be stuck with this set up forever. This UTA document, for example, explains that this site is being developed in three phases, the last of which includes replacing this parking with mixed use development.
The document indicates that a parking structure will be built at this location in 2013, and that the mixed use development will go in sometime between 2014 and 2015. (That information is in the black box on the bottom right. Tilt your computer screen and turn up the brightness if you can’t read it.) On the other hand, the document also lists Bus Rapid Transit as part of phase 1, which should be completed this fall, and of course that doesn’t exist. So these plans clearly include a bit of wishful thinking.
During my meeting with Brent Wilde earlier this year he further explained that future mixed use development and other improvements may come when less parking is needed. He suggested that could happen when Frontrunner is extended south to Nephi. Taken together, Brent’s comments as well as the UTA document suggest that this parking lot may go away in the future, though it could take awhile for that to happen.