October 07, 2010

Underground Parking in the Capital City

October 7, 2010
In response to rapid growth of automobiles in Santiago, underground parking grew 20% in 2009 with continued expansion this year.  (Note: 42% of all of the automobiles in the country of Chile are located in Santiago alone!)  Most recently the opening of the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center also resulted in the inauguration of 400 new parking spaces beneath.  Also this year the neighborhood of Vitacura has opened underground parking with 308 parking spaces to support the many restaurants along Vitacura Avenue. 
El Mercurio
According to the municipalities records the rise in automobiles being purchased is not consistent across the city, but is concentrated in five neighborhoods:  Santiago Centro, Las Condes, Providencia, Vitacura, and Puente Alto.  Some areas of Santiago have done a good job capitalizing on their geographical location and submersing their parking underground.  Santiago Centro, Las Condes, and Providencia have previously been the only neighborhoods to offer underground parking, now Vitacura will be included in that list.

Transportation experts agree that this is a good solution for Santiago, but they caution that underground parking not be the solution indefinitely.  They think that sooner or later parking should be restricted in some sectors or that prices for parking should sharply increase.  Also the cities of London, Tokyo, and Singapore would be good case studies - as they have been able to create a successful balance, not overwhelming their cities with automobiles.  

A focused approach on integrating the underground parking with other transport systems particularly the subway system will be key as Santiago continues to grow and adapt.  The integration of these two modes of transportation would help to decongest the highways and provide Santiago with cleaner air. 

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