Drivers will be able to park their cars in PARTA's new Kent Central Gateway transit center and parking deck some time next month.
The transit agency is on track to open the parking portion of the transit center, with its 365 public parking spaces, by the end of March.
Bryan Smith, director of planning for PARTA, said exactly when next month the parking deck opens will depend on the weather.
The 10-bus bay transit element of the Kent Central Gateway won't open until later this year after the reconstruction of Erie Street between Haymaker Parkway — where a new intersection will be built — and South DePeyster Streeet.
"And that requires asphalt," Smith said.
PARTA also didn't want to open the transit portion of the new center before the end of spring semester at Kent State University because such a move will drastically change some bus routes once buses start using the downtown center as a hub.
Cars will only be able to access the deck ramp via the entrance on South DePeyster Street.
The opening of the parking deck's 365 spaces will offer relief for some who park downtown, where spaces are at a premium and often unavailable in the core business district.
Smith said PARTA is working with a parking consultant to set rates for the deck, which will charge drivers to park in its spaces. But the first few days it is open drivers may not have to pay because the toll booths, gates and other necessary equipment won't be installed before next month.
"When we first open we may not collect revenue," Smith said. "We may use people to collect revenue. We will open in March whether we have (collection) equipment in place or not.
"It's an education process for everybody, and the public is going to be part of that," he said.