A lot more vehicles will soon fill up spaces at the mostly vacant, 410-stall parking garage on South Street that some have criticized as a symbol of government waste and inefficiency.
About 400 city employees will be able to park there under an agreement reached this month between the Federal Transit Administration and the city.
Federal approval was necessary because the flower bed-lined structure, which opened in May 2012, is part of the $100 million Joint Traffic Management Center being paid for mainly with federal funds.
The parking structure was built to accommodate the employees for the part of the state-city traffic center that has not yet been constructed and is scheduled to open in 2016.
The FTA stipulated that only transit-related employees, and primarily those who will work at the traffic center, could park there.
As a result, the vehicles of only about 40 employees at a time from the Honolulu Police Department's Communications Division, who work at HPD's Alapai headquarters next door, have been allowed to park in unreserved stalls at the structure at about $60 a month, said city Transportation Services Director Michael Formby.
The public has complained to the city and the Star-Advertiser about the mostly empty, five-story structure at South King and Kealamakai streets, saying it is a symbol of government waste and inefficiency.
But FTA Regional Administrator Leslie T. Rogers, in a memo to Formby earlier this month, gave approval for the city to use the facility as an interim parking area for other city employees as long as the monthly revenues generated go to the city's bus transportation fund and the lot is used exclusively for transit center operations when the facility opens.
City spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said about 100 stalls will be used by HPD employees, and 11 will be set aside as disabled stalls, leaving 299 that will be used by other city employees. The city Department of Human Resources is meeting with union officials to determine who will be allowed to park at the Alapai lot.
Parking is a scarce commodity for city employees, many of whom are on a waiting list for parking at the Blaisdell Center parking lot several blocks away from the civic center area.
The selection process will take one to two months.
The roughly $240,000 collected annually should help pay for the operations of a 40-foot bus running 12 hours a day for a year, Broder Van Dyke said.
After the traffic center opens, 190 stalls will be dedicated to transportation employees, leaving 209 that will still be open for other city employees, he said.
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