MARQUETTE - People parking their cars in the Bluff Street parking structure may have noticed a few changes this past week.
As a part of the Marquette Downtown Development Authority's Bluff Street parking structure renovation project - an ongoing $1.1 million upgrade to the 25-year-old facility that began in September - new electric car charging stations that provide a plug-in for up to four cars were installed in the lower level, as well as new energy-saving LED lights. Extra bike racks are on the way.
DDA Director Mona Lang said the changes were, and will continue to be, made to further the downtown area with its green goals.
Wright Electric Co. electrician John Anderson installs a new plug-in electric power station in the lower level of the Bluff Street parking structure. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"There's not anywhere that I know of in Marquette that has public electric car charging stations," Lang said. "We're looking forward at a time in the future when there'll be a time for a demand for chargers. We're looking ahead, while doing the renovations."
The new Plug-in Electric Power Stations have already been installed in what used to be the handicap spaces in the lower level of the structure. The handicap spaces were moved one space over from their original spots.
The car charging stations were bought from PEP Stations, located in downstate Michigan, at roughly $4,500 a piece.
The PEP stations do not take cash. Rather, users can pay via credit or debit card. The stations have a user-friendly color touch screen, are mounted on a pillar of concrete to protect them from accidental run-ins with vehicles and provide an appropriate height for access to the plugs.
As of now, the stations are not connected to the Internet, which is required to make them operational. Lang said she hopes electric vehicle drivers will be able to start utilizing the chargers before summer begins.
Lang also said making the downtown area more accessible to bikers is a top priority for the DDA.
"That's very important. We're looking at potential gas prices this summer of potentially over $4.50 a gallon," Lang said. "People are more conscious of not only the environment but their pocketbooks so they're finding alternate modes of transportation, and one of them is biking to work."
The west side of the parking structure's upper level will have six open bike racks and the east side will have three covered bike racks.
The lower level will have bike racks on the east wall as well.
In addition to the PEP stations and the new bike racks, all lighting in the structure was also changed to use more efficient LED bulbs.
"I believe we're going to save substantially on the cost of lighting that structure," Lang said. "On top of that, those lights provide for a safer environment also."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.