Hundreds take advantage of free parking in Twin Cities amid snow emergencies

Minneapolis and St. Paul are both offering free parking options because of the winter storm, and city officials say people are taking advantage of it.

Both cities opened several parking ramps for people to use at no cost, which also helps crews with snow removal.

City officials say hundreds of people took advantage of the free parking in each city.

“I heard about it yesterday and decided to give it a try because I didn’t want to get stuck on one of those side streets,” said Stephanie Copenhaver, who parked for free at a lot in Minneapolis.

More than 1,250 people in Minneapolis have taken advantage of the free parking option.

“A lot of people are very grateful, telling us that they were very grateful that they have a spot as opposed to trying to work in the snow emergency and moving their car from side to side,” said Tim Drew, Minneapolis’ parking system manager.

In St. Paul, more than 750 people parked in one of the eight ramps offered up for free by the city.

RELATED: Snowfall totals: 19 inches in Apple Valley, over a foot in Twin Cities

“The good news is that we still have more spots, so as people are moving their cars right now and maybe struggling a bit, there is plenty of room in the parking ramps,” Lisa Hiebert, a spokesperson for St. Paul Public Works, said.

With snow emergencies in place, the idea to make free parking available in and around the downtown areas greatly benefits the plow operators too.

“By providing these alternative parking ramps and other areas people can safely move their cars, especially with a storm of this size, it really is a win-win,” Hiebert said.

“I’ve been here before but this is a lot of snow,” said David Clifton, who is visiting from Chicago and used the free parking.

“Being from another state, this is perfect because, when you’re in different states, you don’t know the snow laws and all of that, so this is perfect for me,” Clifton said.

City officials in both Minneapolis and St. Paul say when the forecast calls for this much snow, a free parking option is definitely something they’ll consider again.

“It is something where these lots are open and it could be definitely a possibility that this would go on in the future,” Drew said.

“Certainly, we will take a look at this and see what we can do,” Hiebert said.

Snow Emergencies

Below are the locations in Minneapolis offering free parking until Tuesday at midnight and their capacity as of 1 p.m. Thursday:

  • Farmers Market Lot, 225 East Lyndale Ave. – 40% capacity of 309 total spaces
  • Salvation Army Lot, 601 North 4th St. – 60% capacity of 332 total spaces
  • Basilica Lot, 13 North 17th St. – 60% capacity of 183 spaces
  • Vineland Ramp, 727 Vineland Place – FULL (671 spaces)
  • Lyn-Lake Lot, 2940 Garfield Ave S. – FULL (118 spaces)

Additionally, both Seven Points Parking Ramp and MoZaic Art Parking Ramp are offering free parking through 7 p.m. Sunday, and Minneapolis has discounted $1 per day parking from 6 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday at Ramp A, although event rates remain from 4-8 p.m. over the weekend.

Below is a list of the ramps available for free parking in St. Paul until Saturday at noon:

  • Lowertown Ramp, 316 Jackson St.
  • Robert St. Ramp, 95 E. 7th St. – Enter after 4 p.m. and exit by 8 a.m.; ramp closes at 10 p.m.
  • Block 19 Ramp, 145 E. 7th St.
  • Smith Ramp (145 Smith Street)
  • Kellogg Underground Ramp (129 Kellogg Boulevard)
  • Lawson Ramp (10 West 6th Street)
  • 7A Ramp (13 West Exchange Street)
  • World Trade Center Ramp (477 Cedar Street)

Additionally, the City of St. Paul announced a list of rec center lots that are open for parking now until Sunday at 5 p.m. More information is available on the city’s website.

Both cities remain in snow emergencies through most of the day Friday. More details on the snow emergencies and parking restrictions can be found here.

Minneapolis says 595 tickets were issued for snow emergency violations Wednesday and 194 of those were towed. St. Paul says 687 vehicles were tagged Wednesday and 243 were towed.