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Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff
An increasing number of suburbs are turning to the parking study as they look for ways to alleviate gridlock and create vibrant downtown destinations.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Before the completion of the Dedham Square improvement project in late 2013, the intersection created a danger for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Some communities like Belmont have embraced free or reduced-price parking a block or two from main commercial areas.
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
According Jessica Robertson of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, those minor adjustments ensure steady turnover on Main Street.
Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff
Salem created different pricing levels at on-street meters to ensure availability in the most popular downtown areas.
Improvements in Dedham Square included getting rid of the paid permit requirement in one lot and replacing old-fashioned meters with electronic pay stations.
Many of the changes in Dedham Square cater to people running quick errands by allowing them to park for free for the first 15 minutes.
In addition to the tiered pricing system, Salem extended meter time limits to four hours to encourage dining and shopping.
Cheryl Doucette, assistant manager of The Blue Bunny bookstore, says the changes in Dedham Square have been good for small businesses.
Although one parking plan does not fit all, many suburbs are turning to parking studies as a way to revitalize their struggling centers.
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