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Article updated: 4/29/2013 6:56 PM

Good news on Chicago parking front — but devil's in the details

By Marni Pyke

There's good news for some weekend visitors to Chicago. Street parking will be free in the city on Sundays ... but only in certain areas and not until autumn.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Monday announced that tough negotiations brought reforms to Chicago's widely despised parking meter contract.

Those changes will ease some current conditions, but there are a lot of caveats to watch for and some revisions visitors won't like.

The city is reverting to the popular practice of allowing free parking on Sundays, although not on Saturdays as was the previous custom before it privatized the system.

Starting with the end of summer, motorists can leave their cars without paying in many Chicago neighborhoods Sundays. However, that doesn't include the Loop, Magnificent Mile and much of Greektown. Free parking on Sundays is restricted to areas south of Roosevelt Road, west of Halsted Street and north of North Avenue.

Restrictions on parking near Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field remain place.

Here are some other changes to be aware of when you're heading to Chicago.

Coming in 2014, a new pay-by-cell features will mean motorists won't have to use the pay boxes and print receipts. Details are to come, but users can set up an account with a balance of $20 and use a cellphone app to pay. A fee of 35 cents will be charged on purchases of less than two hours.

The bad news for visitors is that the city is extending the amount of time you have to pay at night in certain neighborhoods. In parts of the city where metered parking now ends at 9 p.m., it will become 10 p.m. And folks out for a late night in the Rush Street and Near North Side neighborhoods will pay until midnight in an area bordered by the Chicago River to the south and west, Lake Michigan to the east and Division Street to the north. However, there will be no changes on residential streets where meters time out at 6 p.m.

"When I was elected mayor, I said this was a bad deal, but promised to do everything I could to make improvements on behalf of the taxpayers of this city," Emanuel said in a statement. The contract is operated by Chicago Parking Meters.

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