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More than 50 people came out to the Maine Department of Transportation's final public informational meeting on the transportation study that began more than a year ago to help in the redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Station.
The MDOT has partnered with the Office of the Governor, the Maine Office of Redevelopment and Re-Employment, the Mideast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) and the towns of Topsham and Brunswick to conduct a "transportation planning and preliminary engineering feasibility study that will promote development of immediate and long-range transportation improvement strategies that support the phased redevelopment" of BNAS, the website devoted to the study states (www.nasb-transportation-study.com). The various concept plans discussed Thursday can be viewed at that website.
Martin Kennedy, who heads up the consulting firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., gave an overview of the planning study, noting the draft report should be on the study website this week.
Kennedy stressed the firm has done a planning study that is evaluating and presenting options - not dictating solutions - and some options do include the "no-build" approach. Consultants have received "some very, very thoughtful comments" from the public and the major themes of comment called for bicycle and pedestrian access, public transportation, and where the roadways are concerned, some people do want to increase capacity, he said. The question is where to increase capacity, provide access management and traffic calming measures, and where to preserve existing character in the downtown areas - "and how to pull all that together into a well connected transportation system."
The options they've looked it, Kennedy said, can be broken into two general categories. There are those that involve some kind of roadway project or modifications to the road to improve the efficiency of the road system, increase safety or add capacity. The second category are those options that relate to the idea of "transportation demand management" - a wide range of actions designed to change a person's traffic habits and encourage them to use other modes of transportation.
The feasibility study looked at five transportation strategies from which various options have stemmed. The study looked at moving traffic better in the areas of Cook's Corner and to and from the base itself; along Pleasant Street from Interstate 295 to Mill Street and along the Coastal Connector in Topsham; and also looked at extending rail to the base. Each option has a varying degree of issues - such as environmental review needed - and costs, ranging from $2 million to $3 million for a turnabout at Routes 201 and 196 in Topsham to a new Route 1 interchange in Brunswick estimated to cost $30 million to $40 million. A rail spur extension would cost an estimated $3 million to $6 million, widening the Coastal Connector would be $7 million to $9 million, and the grade separation to bring Route 196 over Route 201 in Topsham would cost an estimated $25 million to $35 million.
Following the presentation, Brunswick resident Marybeth Burbank kicked off nearly an hour of questions and comments by asking if any of the potential transportation projects are tied to any federal money, and if so, what money, in what budget year and does that create any priority for how the work is planned?
Chris Mann, the project manager for MDOT, said "Obviously any of the more major improvements ... would have a need for federal dollars," but there are smaller projects that may not. Regarding a specific timeframe, "A lot of this is going to be reliant on decisions that are made in conversations with Topsham and Brunswick about what the primary priorities are for through traffic, and how we prioritize the projects from that point. Some of the more expensive projects are going to take a longer time to finance, I expect."
Kennedy talked about Mill Street, where public comment has ranged from leaving the road alone, to widening it to four lanes - and "ultimately the answer to that question comes back to this idea of how should Mill Street and Route 1 function, and again that relates to the bigger picture: How does the Coastal Connector function? How does Pleasant Street function and how does Mill Street function?"
Pointing to the crosswalk across Mill Street at Cushing Street to access the Swinging Bridge, Kennedy opined it is not a safe crosswalk due to the heavy volume of traffic because motorists don't expect to see pedestrians there. However, "If you had a sidewalk running along the riverside and bring a pedestrian bridge up and over," somewhere along the railroad trestle, "you could have some sort of a pedestrian crossing that would connect to the Riverwalk." There were also three- and four-lane options for Mill Street that would have median strips preventing left hand turns onto side streets.
Topsham resident Nancy Randolph of SaveOurSwingingBridge.org said the organization has concerns about pulling the historic connection between the Topsham and Brunswick - by way of the historic Swinging Bridge - away from Cushing Street. Randolph says eventually, motorists always stop for pedestrians at the crosswalk and are nice about it.
On behalf of the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk Advisory Committee, Cathy Lamb of Brunswick read a letter for the record that identified access to the Swinging Bridge at the Mill and Cushing street intersection as critical to the 1.25-mile Riverwalk plan in the works. It also asks MDOT to employ traffic-calming strategies to slow traffic on Mill Street and reduce traffic volume by changing signs on I-295 northbound.
There was a feeling by some speakers that given the multitude of options, the best plan of action would be to work on one project first, and see what effect that has.
Scott Taylor of High Street in Brunswick, president of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, noted the state already owns the property needed to widen the Coastal Connector.
"It seems that if you can solve the Coastal Connector and do the grade separations, then Topsham has a more pleasant Main Street and it takes traffic off of Pleasant and Mill Street," and should alleviate a lot of problems at that intersection, Taylor said. "Let's fix that problem and then see if Pleasant Street is still a problem."
Taylor said the Pleasant, Mill and Stanwood streets intersection should be a priority that by fixing, could help the throughway on Mill Street with the current number of lanes and could help alleviate traffic on Pleasant Street in both directions.
There were property and business owners whose property would be impacted by options based on where lines are drawn right now, as well as residents concerned about environmental, historical and recreational impacts of various traffic options. Kennedy said nothing is set in stone and if any of the projects go to the design phase, they would be looking at locations.
Mann said there will be additional public input solicited as MDOT works with Topsham and Brunswick, the governor's office and MRRA "on prioritizing these projects, identifying funding for them, and moving forward."
Visit www.nasb-transportation-study.com to view the draft report of the transportation study to be posted soon or for more information about the study or to view concept plans.
Classes at Gainesville State College start today, and students have a new way to get around: Route 7 on Red Rabbit. Students just need to show their student ID cards to hop on board. The route features stops at GSC, Lanier Technical College, Wal-Mart, Goodwill, Blackshear Place Library and the Park & Ride lot on Thurman Tanner Parkway.
"The time was right to do this now, when enrollment is growing at the colleges," said Phillippa Lewis Moss, Gainesville-Hall County Community Service Center director. "Parking is a real challenge on those campuses, and they're in the process of building a new parking deck but right now need a route to get to the Park & Ride lot."
Route 7 is a small loop with the shortest Red Rabbit time - just 20 minutes.
"Theoretically, you could hop aboard instead of get in your car to go to lunch or go to the stores to take care of shopping," she said. "It's a burden to move your car when you get a good space just to go get a taco. You burn 30 minutes just trying to get across the street."
The expansion is part of a five-year plan drafted for Hall Area Transit in May 2008. A consultant suggested they target access to colleges specifically.
"It's something that's been missing," Lewis Moss said. "I've always said, if public transportation didn't do anything but connect people to academic institutions, we'd be doing a good job. Nothing helps the community advance more than educating its young people."
GSC President Martha Nesbitt said the timing couldn't be better. "Our campuses are growing so fast, we are nearly bursting at the seams," she said. Lanier Tech interim President Russell Vandiver marked it as a priority. "Parking is at a premium. We need the help of public transportation," he said.
On Sept. 1, Route 2 will shift to give better access to Brenau University and shopping areas such as the downtown square and Lakeshore Mall.
On Sept. 13, Route 5 will change from a 60-minute service to a 30-minute service. It's the most popular Red Rabbit route that hits businesses, government buildings and community organizations along Jesse Jewell Parkway from Memorial Park to Main Street.
"We have a large student population that lives on campus, but does not own cars," said Brenau President Ed Schrader. "They are very eager to have enhanced opportunities to get around town."
Backhoes are clearing an old lot and an enormous crane has begun piecing slabs of concrete onto steel rods, work that will triple the number of economy parking spots at Logan International Airport when the project is completed next year.
Officials at the Massachusetts Port Authority said the increase in passengers at the airport as well as the growing number of discount airlines has led to a surge in people seeking lower-cost parking.
Over the past year, the number of travelers parking in Logan's economy lot has jumped. More than 7,500 people parked there in June, double the number who did in June 2009.
As a result, Massport broke ground last month on a $20 million parking garage near the airport's Blue Line station that will offer 3,000 spots for $18 a day, or $108 a week - $6 less per day than the other lots. The first part of the new three-story lot, which is farther from the terminals than the more expensive lots, is scheduled to open in November. The parking facility, being built on top of the old economy lot, is slated for completion early next spring and will add 2,100 spots to the existing 1,000 economy spaces.
"We're just trying to keep up with the demand,'' said Jack Hemphill, business general manager of the aviation department at Massport, which runs the airport.
He said those parking at economy lots now account for about 4 percent of the 220,000 vehicles that use the airport's lots in a typical month, up from about 2 percent a year ago.
The new lot is adjacent to the State Police barracks along Route 1A. The price for parking in the lot will remain $18 per day.
As construction crews yesterday pieced together what looks like a massive Lego set, the travelers driving in were sent through a maze of signs to find the temporary economy lots scattered around the airport.
Hemphill said there are now about 1,600 economy spots at Logan, a fraction of the airport's overall 14,600 paid spaces. When the project is complete, there will be 16,700 spots.
Paul Van Der Weijden drove to Logan from his home in New Hampshire, as he does every few months, and was relieved when he finally found his way to one of the temporary lots by the car rental area.
He said he looked forward to the project's completion.
"It will be nice when we get through this mess,'' he said. "If it's easier to find a spot when it's done, that would be good.''
Tony Soriente, also from New Hampshire, said he just wanted to have a safe place to keep his car when he's away. "As long as it's protected, I'm comfortable,'' he said.
Sean Ridings, a parking attendant who was checking them in and running credit cards, said he is surprised by the number of people willing to drive the extra distance to save $6 a day.
"It's been booming,'' he said. "Maybe it's the economy, but it used to be dead this time of the day.''
In the hour and a half since his shift began, he said, about 20 cars had entered his lot. "Every garage is filling up,'' he said.
His supervisor, Joe Guarino, said it's been a challenge to figure out how to distribute all the people seeking economy parking to the different lots since the construction began.
"There are people who complain and get aggravated,'' he said, "but I think it will be worth it when it's done.''
Frederick Community College
Gears Up For 300-Space Parking Deck
Meg Tully / Frederick News Post
August 15, 2010
Frederick Community College plans to build a 300-space parking deck, thanks to financing provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
College President Carol Eaton points to a 40 percent enrollment increase over the past five years as evidence a new parking structure is needed. The campus, located in Frederick , is limited in size, so building up is the best way to add capacity.
The deck, expected to open by fall 2012, will address a parking need that is already there.
In 2009, the college had 6,233 students, compared with 4,648 in 2004. There are about 1,600 parking spaces on campus, and students have been parking on grassy areas when traditional spots are unavailable.
"We've had the need for a parking deck for years, but we knew we couldn't finance it through our usual mechanism," Eaton said. "So when we learned of this opportunity, we thought the timing was right."
That opportunity was a subsidized bond deal that will result in a dramatically lower interest rate than what the college would get on the open market. After the subsidies have been factored in, the interest could be about 2.8 percent, she said.
Many of the college's projects are funded through tax-exempt bonds that are also lower than a traditional bond. But Eaton said that wouldn't work for this project because the college itself can't issue tax-exempt bonds.
Instead, it relies on the county and state getting tax-exempt bonds according to a 50-50 split. In this case, the state does not issue tax-exempt bonds for parking decks, Eaton said.
The college will fund the parking deck and a third-story addition to the new Student Services Building by asking for about $7.4 million in the federal government's Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds.
About $1 million will be used for the Student Services Building addition. The remaining $6.4 million would be available for the parking deck, but Eaton expects it will cost less.
The bonds will be repaid by charging a parking fee to every student. The intent is not to have any reserved spots in the parking deck, Eaton said.
For the deal to be approved, the Frederick County Commissioners on Thursday agreed to designate Frederick a recovery zone so it would be eligible for the bonds.
Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. was the only commissioner to object to the designation. A Republican, Thompson is also a candidate for delegate in District 4A.
He said he has only one position on "wild, out-of-control, rampant federal deficit spending" -- he opposes it, whether it's in his district or elsewhere.
"I'm a very poor politician," Thompson said. "I'm seeking public office now, so I'm being doubly poor."
He has opposed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, known as the stimulus, and several other projects through the bill that will benefit Frederick County.
"This is stimulus money. It's money that simply doesn't exist," Thompson told the other commissioners Thursday. "It will be added to the federal deficit, it will never be repaid."
Commissioners President Jan Gardner said she understood Thompson's position, but felt the county should act to take advantage of federal programs because the county's residents pay federal taxes.
Thompson also objected to building a parking deck that encourages driving individual cars rather than using public transportation.
Other commissioners said that some students live in areas where public transportation is not available.
After the District increased its rates for street parking at the start of the year, many drivers focused on how to keep enough quarters in their cars. I prefer a yogurt container full of change. It fits into the cup holder slot next to the seat. But old film canisters are quite handy, too.
But the District Department of Transportation has launched parking payment experiments that could end my dependence on yogurt and film. These experiments are called pay by space, pay by plate and pay by phone. Here's a look at how they work.
A driver who visits different areas -- say, Georgetown, the U Street corridor and the Smithsonian museums -- may encounter several of these pilot programs.
Don't assume that because you know how one type of multi-space machine works, you know them all. And while figuring out whether to use cash, a credit card or a cellphone to make a payment, don't forget to read all the street signs that spell out the parking regulations and hours. On Independence Avenue SW, for example, a stack of five signs details the avenue's parking rules and payment methods.
Here's one universal truth: It's the D.C. government that sets the street parking rules and fees, not the private vendors operating the payment systems.
Pay by plate
Cale Parking Systems USA operates a pay-by-license-plate pilot system in the 1300 block of U Street NW. Some drivers approach the payment kiosks thinking they are the same as the older multi-space parking kiosks around the city. It takes them a while to figure out that the machine wants them to enter their plate numbers before making a payment.
Parking enforcement officers can tell who has paid when they electronically read the plate numbers. But some drivers aren't so sure. Many place their receipts on their dashboards, just as they would with the older style of multi-space meter.
Pay by space
Parkeon, another parking management company, is operating the pay-by-space system in the 900 through 1200 blocks of Independence Avenue SW. Here again, there's a twist on the older style of multi-space kiosk.
Look on the old parking meter stands for a space number, and for the words, "Pay at Pay Station, Remember Your Space #." One driver at the pay station said he found the system easy to use and the instructions clear.
He knew the difference between this system and the older multi-space system, the one requiring the driver to place the receipt on the dashboard. In this experimental system, as with the pay-by-plate model, the driver can walk away with the receipt. The parking enforcement officer will know which spaces have been paid for.
Duncan Solutions also is operating its own pay-by-space system on several streets in Friendship Heights.
Pay by phone
Parkmobile and Verrus Mobile Technologies are operating systems in which subscribers use their cellphones to generate a parking payment. Here again, parking enforcement officers use electronic readers to recognize that a payment has been made.
The Verrus system began operating in April at 700 spaces around Dupont Circle, Union Station, K Street, I Street and New York Avenue NW. Drivers can sign up at paybyphone.com or call 888-510-PARK (7275).
Last month, Parkmobile began a program that covers about a thousand metered spaces in Foggy Bottom, on Reservoir Road in Georgetown and around Nationals Park. Users can sign up at www.parkmobile.com, where they can download mobile applications for popular devices.
The companies want credit card information and license plate numbers for the accounts. While Washingtonians are used to creating accounts to buy a book or a sweater, it's a new step to do this just to park on a street. Still, DDOT spokesman John Lisle said that Verrus has more than 5,400 registered users. Parkmobile, the newer operation here, has about 580 users so far.
In our society, cars receive considerable attention and study - whether the subject is buying and selling them, the traffic congestion they cause or the dangerous things we do in them, like texting and talking on cellphones while driving. But we haven't devoted nearly enough thought to how cars are usually deployed - namely, by sitting in parking spaces.
Is this a serious economic issue? In fact, it's a classic tale of how subsidies, use restrictions, and price controls can steer an economy in wrong directions. Car owners may not want to hear this, but we have way too much free parking.
Higher charges for parking spaces would limit our trips by car. That would cut emissions, alleviate congestion and, as a side effect, improve land use. Donald C. Shoup, professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, has made this idea a cause, as presented in his 733-page book, "The High Cost of Free Parking."
Many suburbanites take free parking for granted, whether it's in the lot of a big-box store or at home in the driveway. Yet the presence of so many parking spaces is an artifact of regulation and serves as a powerful subsidy to cars and car trips. Legally mandated parking lowers the market price of parking spaces, often to zero. Zoning and development restrictions often require a large number of parking spaces attached to a store or a smaller number of spaces attached to a house or apartment block.
If developers were allowed to face directly the high land costs of providing so much parking, the number of spaces would be a result of a careful economic calculation rather than a matter of satisfying a legal requirement. Parking would be scarcer, and more likely to have a price - or a higher one than it does now - and people would be more careful about when and where they drove.
The subsidies are largely invisible to drivers who park their cars - and thus free or cheap parking spaces feel like natural outcomes of the market, or perhaps even an entitlement. Yet the law is allocating this land rather than letting market prices adjudicate whether we need more parking, and whether that parking should be free. We end up overusing land for cars - and overusing cars too. You don't have to hate sprawl, or automobiles, to want to stop subsidizing that way of life.
As Professor Shoup wrote, "Minimum parking requirements act like a fertility drug for cars."
Under a more sensible policy, a parking space that is currently free could cost at least $100 a month - and maybe much more - in many American cities and suburbs. At the bottom end of that estimate, if a commuter drives to work 20 days a month, current parking policy offers a subsidy of $5 a day - which is more than the gas and wear-and-tear costs of many round-trip commutes. In essence, the parking subsidy outweighs many of the other costs of driving, including the gasoline tax.
In densely populated cities like New York, people are accustomed to paying high prices for parking, which has helped to encourage a relatively efficient, high-density use of space. Yet even New York is reluctant to enact the full social cost of the automobile into policy. Proposals to impose congestion fees have failed politically, and on-street parking is priced artificially low.
Manhattan streets are full of cars cruising around, looking for cheaper on-street parking, rather than pulling into a lot. The waste includes drivers' lost time and the costs of running those engines. By contrast, San Francisco has just instituted a pioneering program to connect parking meter prices to supply and demand, with prices being adjusted, over time, within a general range of 25 cents to $6 an hour.
Another common practice in many cities is to restrict on-street parking to residents or to short-term parkers by imposing a limit of, say, two hours for transients. That makes parking artificially easy for residents and for people who are running quick errands. Higher fees and permit prices would help shore up the ailing budgets of local governments.
Many parking spaces are extremely valuable, even if that's not reflected in current market prices. In fact, Professor Shoup estimates that many American parking spaces have a higher economic value than the cars sitting in them. For instance, after including construction and land costs, he measures the value of a Los Angeles parking space at over $31,000 - much more than the worth of many cars, especially when considering their rapid depreciation. If we don't give away cars, why give away parking spaces?
Yet 99 percent of all automobile trips in the United States end in a free parking space, rather than a parking space with a market price. In his book, Professor Shoup estimated that the value of the free-parking subsidy to cars was at least $127 billion in 2002, and possibly much more.
PERHAPS most important, if we're going to wean ourselves away from excess use of fossil fuels, we need to remove current subsidies to energy-unfriendly ways of life. Imposing a cap-and-trade system or a direct carbon tax doesn't seem politically acceptable right now. But we can start on alternative paths that may take us far.
Imposing higher fees for parking may make further changes more palatable by helping to promote higher residential density and support for mass transit. As Professor Shoup puts it: "Who pays for free parking? Everyone but the motorist."
Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
It's no secret. Parking at UTEP has always been an issue. As the campus continues to grow, so does the demand for parking.
The University of Texas Board of Regents has approved a way to ease motorists headaches. A new parking garage could help with the problems, but it poses a different dilemma for some. Like the lyrics in the Andy Willams song said, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." For some, there's no better time than football: the game, the excitement and the tailgating. But that part of the UTEP experience is getting a little smaller.
University officials said a new $12.43 million parking garage -- similar in style to the one on Sun Bowl Drive -- is expected to break ground in October right in the middle of the S-2 parking lot. They explained the garage is supposed to help with the anticipated increase in demand for parking on the southern half of campus.
That's where the construction of the College of Health Sciences/School of Nursing, the Chemistry and Computer Science buildings is happening. "If it's going to help traffic, I think it's great," said accounting student George Ibarra.
"It's something people need here. There's not many spaces where to park. People have been walking far away to park their cars," explained physics student John Briceno. Christina Rodriguez, a social sciences student said, "It definitely would be nice to reduce the traffic that goes on in the parking lots and definitely in the neighboring communities."
But some students told ABC-7 it's not worth it since they can't afford a garage permit, which can run more than $200.
"Every year it keeps getting more and more expensive, and we don't have that kind of money to be paying all that money for them. So I don't think it's such a good idea," said Griselda Lopez, a chemistry student.
And the reduced tailgating space? "If they have less spaces to tailgate -- the places where they do tailgate -- it's going to be even more trashed," Rodriguez explained.
The garage is supposed to have nearly 700 spaces. It's scheduled to be open by the spring of 2012.
Though writing parking tickets will be one aspect of their job, the three new "parking services specialists" hired by the city of Chico will also serve as liaisons to downtown visitors and shoppers.
Earlier this summer, the city announced its plans to shift the way it regulates downtown parking, moving from two full-time community service officers to three part-time parking services specialists.
Those employees have since been hired and are now out and about in downtown Chico.
Wearing green city of Chico polo shirts and khaki pants, Gary Cantwell, Ed Luna and Feng Thao are issuing parking citations, but are also promoting an attitude of community service, Assistant City Manager John Rucker said.
"I really want to see them engage the public, offer assistance to downtown shoppers and serve as eyes and ears for downtown Chico," Rucker said Thursday.
In a press release issued by the Chico Police Department, Sgt. Rob Merrifield echoed Rucker's sentiments, saying the specialists were chosen specifically for their roles as "goodwill ambassadors to the downtown."
"Friendliness and approachability were a major consideration during the selection process," Merrifield said.
The parking services specialists will take over for the full-time community service officers, who often had to leave their posts managing parking to tend to other needs in the community. Rucker said there is no additional cost to the city for the specialists.
With more reliable enforcement in place, Rucker said downtown's parking needs will be better met, noting that the specialists are just one piece of the solution for downtown parking.
Rucker said the city is in the process of switching to a system that will allow meter fees to be paid by credit card, anticipating that the smart meters will be in place this fall.
The parking services specialists will also be working to survey parking availability throughout the day, Rucker said, which will better help the city in its preliminary plans to implement variable parking rates downtown.
Under the plan, Rucker said parking fees in prime areas near downtown businesses would have higher meter fees than those farther away from the downtown core.
That proposal needs City Council approval, with Rucker saying the matter could come before the council later this year.
The tailgate is back on for longtime holders of Ohio State University parking passes who had been told by the university that they needed to contribute $5,000 to the athletic program to keep their spots next to Ohio Stadium.
In a letter last week to 426 holders of the prime football game-day tailgating spots, the university's Buckeye Club said they will get another year to decide whether to donate the money.
"I think the one message that echoed loudest is that, when people are planning out their charitable giving, they do it a year in advance," said Pat Chun, a deputy director over external relations with the athletic program. "We really didn't give people enough time."
About 80 percent of those affected have not made the donation, Chun said. They were told to pay up or risk being moved farther from the stadium. Some complained that the university was breaking deals made decades ago.
For at least the past decade, a $5,000 donation to the Buckeye Club, which raises money for student athletics, has been required to obtain the parking.
Joan and Richard Crawford received their pass in the 1960s, when Richard was appointed to the university athletic committee by then-football coach Woody Hayes. The committee would entertain athletes and prospective athletes, having them to dinner at their houses and selling them on attending Ohio State, said Mrs. Crawford.
The Crawfords have donated to the President's Club, which funds academic programs, but never to the Buckeye Club.
"It's kind of a slap in the face to the President's Club," said Mrs. Crawford, who has two education degrees from Ohio State. "I've always promoted academics. I don't think (the athletic department) needs me. The College of Social Work, they need me."
Susie Coe has had the parking pass for decades and was told by an OSU official that it would be permanent if she contributed tens of thousands of dollars to achieve lifetime status in the President's Club, she said. But she never got it in writing.
"Quite honestly, this has been handled so poorly from the beginning," Coe said. "I think they upset a lot of the people who have been the hard-core, loving supporters of the Buckeyes all their lives; perhaps not the biggest givers, but people whose gifts over a lifetime reached the six-figure level."
An audit of the parking-pass program last winter determined that about 20percent of those receiving prime parking spots hadn't donated enough money, including 252 Buckeye Club members.
Some of the people have held the parking privileges so long that the university couldn't say what they were promised, Chun said in February. Some are lifetime season-ticket holders under a program that ended in the 1980s, and the university has no documentation about whether their parking privileges also were billed as "lifetime," he said then.
Chicago's beleaguered parking meter contractor was forced to stop writing tickets last year after an avalanche of complaints about broken, overstuffed and improperly calibrated meters.
But the company that paid the city $1.15 billion over 75 years is apparently making up for lost time.
A private firm hired by Chicago Parking Meters LLC issued 1,345 parking tickets during the first 23 days of stepped-up ticket-writing --from June 21 to July 14 -- primarily in the Central Business District, records show.
The extra citations were written by just five ticket writers, one-third of the private contingent expected to hit the streets by year's end.
The ticketing blitz was conducted by Serco Inc., the same company the city's Department of Revenue uses for added enforcement.
Although ticket revenues continue to flow into the city's coffers, Chicago Parking Meters LLC is hoping that more tickets translate to increased compliance, now hovering around 75 percent. That could boost the company's bottom line by 10 percent in 2011, consultants say.
The ticketing surge comes at a time when meter violation enforcement by city employees -- Chicago Police officers and parking enforcement aides assigned to the Department of Revenue -- has dropped 12 percent.
Through June 30, city employees issued 225,838 tickets, down from 258,057 citations during the same period a year ago.
The number of police tickets has been dropping steadily in recent years, coinciding with a police hiring slowdown that has left the Police Department more than 2,230 officers a day short of authorized strength, counting vacancies as well as officers on medical leave and light duty.
The 75-year, $1.15 billion deal that privatized the meters has infuriated Chicago motorists.
Steep rate increases that forced drivers to stuff their pockets with quarters would have been bad enough. But broken and frozen pay-and-display boxes and overstuffed and improperly calibrated meters made it even worse.
It's red meat for political opponents. A 20 percent rate increase is scheduled for Jan. 1, and annual rate increases will continue through 2013. After that, meter revenues must rise by "the rate of inflation," either by raising rates, adding meters or increasing operating hours.
If aldermen "negatively impact" meter revenue, the private operator will have to be made whole, according to the lease.
Citing financial documents tied to an impending bond issue, the Chicago News Cooperative reported last month that cash flow to Chicago Parking Meters LLC is running stronger than expected despite the initial public outcry over the lease.
The company expects to rake in more than $73 million this year --more than triple the city's annual $20 million take before the meters were privatized.
Despite a slow start in its first several months of existence, College Park officials say the city's $9.3 million parking garage has begun to pay dividends and will now be further boosted by a new ground-floor retail tenant at the facility.
The five-story, 288-space facility - located on Knox Road near Route 1 - opened with considerable fanfare in July 2009. Officials predicted it would make the parking-starved downtown district more convenient for visitors, potentially improving business and even attracting new businesses to the area, where several shops have closed in the past year.
The garage performed below expectations through January, as early revenue was typically about $4,000 or $5,000 a month, said city finance director Stephen Groh. However, with advertising and word of mouth, its use nearly doubled last spring to about $8,000 a month from February to May, which Groh said surpassed city projections.
Groh said its performance could further improve this fall, with former Adelphi staple Ledo Restaurant scheduled to open on the garage's ground floor in mid- to late-August.
"Maybe people are getting used to it," Groh said. "I think there was a sort of an intimidation factor [with a new, unfamiliar building], and people didn't know it was there."
City officials attributed the slow sales to a lack of word of mouth and the possibility that some motorists didn't know the garage fare was equal to the citywide rate of 75 cents an hour, suspecting the city might charge more for enclosed, covered parking.
Officials at one point suggested raising parking prices elsewhere in the city - from 75 cents to $1 per hour - to draw more vehicles to the garage, but now believe the facility can stand on its own. The garage was often at more than 30 percent of its capacity during the spring semester, said City Manager Joe Nagro, a figure that exceeded most expectations.
"I don't think we ever projected it would be 100 percent full, 100 percent of the time," Nagro said, adding the garage was more than half-full during busier evening and weekend periods. "With the retail opening in the next three weeks and school coming, I would expect to see even a bigger increase."
The garage took in nearly $100,000 in revenue last fiscal year - $70,000 from pay stations and nearly $29,000 in monthly permits sold to local employees and students. The city hopes to bring in $114,000 this year, which Groh called a conservative projection, with $52,000 from pay stations and $62,000 from permits. Groh said the city has not estimated how long it could take for the garage to pay for itself.
"Anything that makes it more convenient for people to park here ... is beneficial," R.J. Bentley's owner John Brown said in July. "Clearly, parking has been a significant issue for College Park for many, many years."
While officials say the facility could bolster local shops and restaurants, City Councilman Robert Catlin (Dist. 2) said it could also attract new housing development to the area, such as the recently announced high-rise that developers plan to build at the site of the Maryland Book Exchange, located at Route 1 and College Avenue, two blocks north of the garage.
"The parking garage is really built to facilitate development of existing properties," Catlin said. "It would save [developers] a considerable amount of money if they don't have to put in a level of underground parking."
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced a raft of changes to his proposed parking lease Wednesday in an effort to address public demands without compromising the deal's revenue potential for the city.
Mr. Ravenstahl said the revised lease incorporates many suggestions, including more moderate increases in meter rates, that emanated from public meetings on his plan to lease city parking garages and meters for 50 years. At the same time, the new lease includes some tradeoffs, including an expanded no-compete zone and more rigorous enforcement of parking meters, to keep the deal attractive to prospective bidders.
In the end, mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said, the revenue potential should stay the same.
Mr. Ravenstahl expects the deal to fetch a lump-sum payment of at least $300 million -- $100 million to cover parking authority debt and $200 million to pump into the pension fund. He's hoping it will generate much more than that, though he hasn't said how much more to avoid skewing the bidding process.
He's pushing the lease to shore up the pension fund and avert its takeover by the state.
Seven prequalified bidders have until Sept. 15 to submit bids. The mayor's office then will select a winning bidder and ask council to approve the contract.
The mayor released an initial version of the lease June 30, then held three community meetings to gather public input. City Council, which has given the lease plan a rocky reception, held its own round of meetings.
The initial version of the lease would have let hourly meter rates increase this fall. Now, meter rates would be held at current levels until March 31, 2011, and the winning bidder wouldn't be allowed to charge more than $1.50 per hour at any meter until it installs technology giving drivers multiple payment options.
In the initial version, meter enforcement would have been permitted after 1 p.m. Sundays. The final lease bans Sunday enforcement altogether. There is no Sunday enforcement currently.
In the initial version, all meters would have been enforced until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The final version would stop enforcement at 6 p.m. in certain neighborhoods, including Allentown, Beechview, Carrick, East Liberty, Lawrenceville, the Mellon Park area and the West End.
Ms. Doven said the mayor's advisers kicked around the idea of halting meter enforcement at 6 p.m. citywide but decided against it, fearing that change would significantly lower the bids.
Meter rates in Carrick, now 50 cents per hour, would be frozen at that level for the first five years of the lease "to allow competition with bordering suburban business districts." In the initial version of the lease, hourly meter rates in Carrick would have risen to $1 by 2014.
In Bloomfield, which is bracing for the loss of as many as 1,500 jobs at West Penn Hospital by year's end, meter rates around the hospital, now 50 cents per hour, would remain at that level until Jan. 1, 2012. The rate would increase to $1.50 per hour by 2015.
In the initial version of the lease, hourly rates would have increased to 75 cents in the first year of the lease and to $2 by 2014.
The new version of the lease does not alter the steep rate increases Mr. Ravenstahl previously proposed for Downtown parking garages. Ms. Doven said garage rates were not a prominent issue at the mayor's community meetings.
The lease includes rate increases for garages and meters to make the deal attractive to bidders.
Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak she believes council members who have been adamantly opposed to the lease plan will be unmoved by the lease revisions.
The revised lease says bidders must disclose any relationships with lobbyists or other agents when they submit their proposals.
The final lease also:
• Allows the leaseholder to rent advertising space in parking garages and on metering devices, but requires revenue-sharing with the city and authority.
• Requires the leaseholder to maintain an office in Pittsburgh for the duration of the lease.
• Requires the leaseholder to provide bicycle parking on every block that has parking meters.
The no-compete zone for Downtown parking garage construction initially covered an area roughly bounded by Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt boulevards, Liberty Avenue and Delray, Smithfield and Grant streets, plus an area bounded by Ross Street, the Boulevard of the Allies and the Parkway East. The new zone essentially connects those two areas, increasing the no-compete by zone many blocks.
Private developers and certain government agencies may continue to build public parking garages in the zone; the no-compete clause does not apply to them.
If the city and authority want to build garages for general-purpose public parking, the leaseholder would have the opportunity to prove revenue loss and seek compensation.
The University of Virginia is cracking down on parking offenders who don't pay their fines.
Beginning Aug. 16, U.Va.'s Department of Parking and Transportation will use "traffic boots" to immobilize the vehicles of motorists who owe multiple parking fines. Removing the devices will cost $50, in addition to the fines.
Parking and Transportation Director Rebecca White said Wednesday that more than 1,500 vehicle owners owe a total $265,000 in delinquent parking fines since July 2009. Two vehicle owners each owe more than $3,000.
White says university officials hope the crackdown will persuade offenders to settle delinquent fines before they get out of hand.
Nobody likes dealing with a parking meter. Or the results when it slips your mind. The city of Eugene is trying to make things a little easier for you. By using a tool almost everyone has -- a cell phone.
Too often visiting downtown Eugene, means your going to have to pay to park. But parking payment options just opened up. The city of Eugene's Parking Services has launched a new program, where you can use your cellphone at seven electronic paystations, instead of physically feeding a meter.
It's a idea that Courtney Richardson likes. She works in downtown and say's there are always major parking issues. "Coming to pay the parking meter and sometimes it doesn't work and it would be really helpful to have it on my phone. So I could type it in real quick and zip in a spot," said Richardson.
To get started with the free e-park service, you have to register at Parkmobile.com. Once you follow the steps -- you can use an application on your cell to pay for parking, access the service by using the internet on your phone, or call 877-PARK-832.
We're trying to reduce the number of parking citiations we write in the city. We've been working on that for 5,10,15, 20 years," added Parking Services Manager, Jeff Petry. Maybe so, but parking attendants and the dreaded tickets remain a reality for anyone trying to find a place to park in Eugene's city center.
Still, not everyone is completely sold on the idea of using a cellphone to pay for parking, at least not yet. I asked Tony Feliz, who also works downtown, if it was something he would be interested in using. "Honestly probably not. But I would definitely look into it, just to see if it's something that's more convenient. Because generally sometimes I'll just buy a monthly pass," explained Feliz.
As social commentator Will Rogers once said, "Politics ain't worrying this country one-tenth as much as where to find a parking space."
As far as parking in the Silverton business corridor is concerned, merchants might agree. At the Silverton City Council meeting in July, Aylene Geringer, owner of The Chocolate Box, expressed concerns about downtown parking. She requested the council consider issuing permits to shop owners and employees so they don't take up parking meter spaces and can park free elsewhere.
She also requested removing the two-hour time limit on meters and to include a handicapped parking zone. She suggested Water Street be converted to a two-way grid with diagonal parking on the street.
Following the meeting, the Silverton Chamber of Commerce decided to conduct a survey to obtain feedback from workers and business owners in the downtown core.
"We wanted to address whether this was a singular concern, so we e-mailed the survey out to 103 people just in the downtown core to try and basically take a temperature on if this is an issue for folks and if so, what they would like to see," said Stacy Palmer, executive director of the chamber.
Palmer presented the results to the City Council at its meeting last week. "It's not a recommendation, we just wanted them to have the information instead of hearing it from one person so they can see if it's a concern for a number of merchants in town," she said. Of the 103 people who received the chamber's survey, 43 responded. Forty-five percent of people said they thought parking was a minor issue for customers.
According to the survey, 50 percent of people said they would park in designated business parking areas if such areas existed. During the public-comment portion of last week's council meeting, Silverton resident Barbara Springer said she thought the two-hour parking meter limit was too short for someone visiting Silverton. "Watching a watch is a little bit unnerving. Either lengthen it or get rid of it all together," she said.
The council did not discuss the survey results during the meeting. Community Development Director Steve Kay said the city is waiting to hear back from the council about how it wants to proceed with the matter.
Downtown Huntington Beach is a popular destination, and finding a parking place can often be difficult. But the city has approved a plan to bring valet parking to the business district.
The City Council last week approved valet parking programs at the Main Promenade and Plaza Almeria parking structures during the summer, holidays and special events.
The program will help alleviate residents and visitors from parking in downtown neighborhoods during busy times by making the existing structures more efficient, according to the staff report.
A portion of the lower level of each structure will be used, along with four on-street metered parking spaces on Third Street and two metered spaces on Olive Avenue for the drop-off and pick-up zones.
City officials on Tuesday said they have pulled a $6.5 million item from the capital budget - for half the funding of a TVA parking garage. Councilman Jack Benson said Mayor Ron Littlefield needs to find a partner to ante up for the rest of the funding.
The council voted 7-2 Tuesday night on first reading on the remainder of the capital budget items.
The package includes funding for boat slips at the Ross's Landing Marina, $1.5 million in improvements to the Wilcox Tunnel, a new downtown police precinct at the old Farmers Market on E. 11th Street, and installation of new fire hydrants.
Mayor Littlefield said he remains committed to the 1,000-car parking facility, saying it will facilitate downtown workers and future residential development.
He said, "Parking infrastructure is an important component for economic development and continued growth. We propose delaying the funding of this public parking garage with the City Council's commitment to share the cost once additional funding sources are identified."
The new police station will service all of downtown including Southside, Northshore and the Central Business District, among others. The station will serve as headquarters for the bicycle patrol and police service technicians. The station will have meeting space for community and neighborhood groups.
Concerning the fire hydrants, officials said Chattanooga has a Class II - ISO Rating. Some roads do not have adequate waterlines that will support hydrants. Utility districts and water companies will need to upgrade waterlines prior to installing hydrants, it was stated. Councilwoman Deborah Scott pushed for a vigorous program of upgrading city roads and streets. She said the city needs to spend $4 million to $5 million per year on roads. The city currently has $2.8 million available for roads.
Tempers flared Monday night as Port Chester's trustees tried to figure out how no one noticed a public employee was stealing money from parking meters -- and how to prevent it from happening again.
Trustees agreed to bring in a private collection company after an often-loud debate about oversight and responsibility at Monday's board meeting. Officials didn't get into specifics, but they say someone's been skimming from the meters, which produce half a million dollars in revenue for the village each year.
Police are investigating, and all collections are now done under the watchful eye of a beat officer. The thefts went unnoticed by Port Chester's auditors and full-time staff, and several trustees said they're baffled at how that could happen.
Holding up two change canisters taken from parking meters, Village Manager Christopher Russo explained one canister had its top sawed off, and the lock was broken on the other. Among meters in the village, about 40 have had their tops sawed off, and another 100 or so have had their locks "defeated or removed," Detective Lt. Royal Monroe told the board.
Compounding the problem was the generally sloppy way in which the money was collected and counted, Russo told the board. Receipts for the aging meters were written out by hand, and there were no rules on how the money should be handled and counted. Often, Russo said, the money was "taken, counted and bagged" at a municipal garage.
Russo said employees from the Department of Public Works should have reported the broken and sawed-off canisters, but no one did.
As they heard more details from Russo and police Lt. Royal Monroe, at least two trustees became visibly angry.
"We're looking at the biggest pot of money we have other than mortgage tax or sales tax, and no one has any idea what's going on?" Trustee Sam Terenzi said. "Are we firing these people, Mr. Russo? Are we getting rid of these people? This is a disgrace, Chris."
Mayor Dennis Pilla intervened, raising his hands as he tried to steer talk back to approving a contract for a private parking company. That was a sore point too, since Russo had awarded the contract -- and its $45,000 price tag -- without pre-approval from the trustees.
Terenzi waved the mayor off: "Dennis, I know your style already. You're laying the groundwork so he can set up the emergency contract."
Managing to appear embarrassed and annoyed at the same time, Pilla wore a tight smile in a mostly inaudible aside to Terenzi, who was sitting three seats to the mayor's right.
"Please, Dennis, please," Terenzi said. "Like I'm running for something. I'd like to run away from something."
Trustees Joseph Kenner and John Branca asked pointed questions about how the village reconciles differences in its books, and Pilla bemoaned the fact that Port Chester's current auditors -- who will be replaced by an upstate firm -- could have missed obvious signs that money was going missing.
"To me the whole thing looks like it was poor, poor management," said Trustee Luis Marino.
Officials haven't identified any suspects, and Pilla said the early police investigation was conducted in secrecy because police wanted to observe collections "without setting off bells." Pointing to the ongoing investigation and describing the thefts as "a personnel matter," trustees went behind closed doors for a 10-minute executive session Monday night.
Port Chester will pay Central Parking System $45,000 for handling parking meter collections for three months, with an option for a fourth month. Russo said it's likely the village will need all four months to wait for the police investigation to run its course and to decide on better oversight practices.
Driving to lunch in downtown Naperville? Effective Tuesday afternoon, you're likely to spend more time at the table and less time looking for a place to park.
Mayor George Pradel will flip the switch at 11 a.m. on the city's new parking guidance systems for two downtown parking decks.
The system, located at the Van Buren deck and Central Parking Facility at Washington Street and Chicago Avenue, will monitor the number of vehicles entering and exiting the parking structures.
The number of available spaces in each structure will be posted at the parking deck entrances. The Van Buren deck has 792 spaces and the Central facility has 553.
"These signs are intended to give advance information to people about how full the deck is so they can make an educated decision before they enter the deck as to the availability of parking," project engineer Andy Hynes said. "Hopefully that will translate into better use of our decks, less circulation in the downtown, less emissions and people being a little more satisfied when they come to downtown."
The system also includes an Internet interface that eventually will allow visitors to check parking availability online before they head downtown.
"That technology has been developed and we're just working on the final connections between the system itself and our website so it may or not be up (Tuesday)," Hynes said. "But it will be live within the next few days."
Hynes said the system has been tested during the last few days and has been found to only have a 3 percent to 5 percent margin of error.
"The counts were pretty close so they're pretty accurate," he said.
Roughly half of the $300,000 total cost of the systems is being paid with grant money.
That money is part of nearly $1.4 million the city is receiving from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. The grants are to be used to reduce fossil fuel emissions and overall energy use as well as making transportation or building improvements that will conserve energy.
According to city officials, motorists often search for spots in various surface parking lots instead of using one of the two main parking facilities due to the uncertainty of the availability of spaces within the structures.
City-style payment kiosks may soon replace conventional meters in several borough-owned parking lots.
Charles DeBow, the State College parking manager, said he would like the kiosks to be installed within a year or so. In his vision, the kiosks would be placed in the McAllister Street parking deck and the lots on the 100 block of West Beaver Avenue and the 200 block of South Allen Street.
Similar to city-owned parking kiosks used in Philadelphia and New York City, the devices here would accept credit cards and cash, DeBow said. Motorists in the cities pay at the kiosks for specific amounts of time, then place printed receipts on their dashboards.
In the city model, a single kiosk can provide service for a dozen or more parking spaces, eliminating the need for more conventional, coin-only meters.
Here, Borough Council members would need to approve the change, which has yet to reach their agenda. DeBow, who worked several years in the Philadelphia parking business, said the idea would be to make downtown parking more convenient.
"I want to make sure anyone who is willing to pay can pay," he said.
Parking in the borough-owned surface lots now costs 75 cents an hour. Motorists who receive parking tickets sometimes complain that they just didn't have enough change at hand to feed the meter sufficiently, DeBow said.
"Maybe you have enough in the change holder in your car; maybe you don't," he said. DeBow said he expects the kiosks would increase the revenue that's now collected by the meters, but decrease the number of tickets that the borough issues in the affected parking areas.
Longer term, he said, the borough may look to install additional kiosks to replace on-street parking meters, or to install credit-card readers in those on-street meters.
DeBow outlined a few other changes being tentatively considered by the parking department. Among them:
•A system that would allow drivers to pay their parking tickets
in person at the Beaver Avenue, Pugh Street and Fraser Street
parking garages. Right now, tickets can be paid in person only at
the borough building, 243 S. Allen St., though online and
mail-based payment options are available, too.
•An expansion of the McAllister Street parking deck. The department is preliminarily mulling whether the two-level parking deck should be built taller or leveled to make way for an all-new, larger facility. Demand for parking in that area of town may grow as redevelopment materializes, DeBow said. Any demolition or new construction would need Borough Council approval.
•New safety measures. A suicide last week at the Beaver Avenue parking garage was the fourth in 16 months at the borough-owned garages. All the incidents involved individuals jumping from upper floors. The issue is very much on the minds of borough officials, and they're looking into whether some new, preventative physical measures at the garages would be effective, DeBow said. He said they are reviewing research and want to make a data-based decision. Any physical changes at the garages would likely require Borough Council approval, as well.
The use of parking in front of stores by students at St. Scholastica Academy and Delgado Community College, as well as employees and store owners has called for a two-hour parking "Please" plea from business owners.
At a meeting of the Covington Business Association on Wednesday, merchants discussed the problems in certain areas of downtown that have made finding a place to park difficult for their customers.
Instead of requesting an ordinance to enforce the two-hour
parking signs that would allow Covington Police Department to issue
tickets, the merchants will ask employees to park in the ox-lots,
making store front parking available to customers.
Those that are not customers, or who park there all day, will be gently reminded that the parking is for a two-hour limit. Fear of losing customers to tickets has spurred the "Please" action.
Education of the public and others who work in the area of the availability of parking in ox-lots and cleaning the ox-lots was encouraged. Former Covington councilwoman Pat Clanton told the CBA, "There's too much competition for the businesses; tickets would be a disaster. Friendliness and service sells. We have a unique area and community."
Clanton advised storeowners not to depend on the city to clean their sidewalks. "You have to do it," she said. "Get back to the old world attitude. There are worse things than not finding a parking place. The worst thing is when no one comes that needs to park."
Another concern is the abundance of 18-wheel trucks on Boston Street. Police Chief Richard Palmisano said the thoroughfare is a no truck route and only trucks with deliveries are supposed to be using the street. Unfortunately, many are using it as a short cut to U.S. Highway 190.
Palmisano said tickets could be issued if drivers cannot prove they are making deliveries and to call the police.
Many business owners are concerned the constant shaking by passing heavy trucks will damage the older buildings.
In other CBA news, Randy Perkins is producing "Steel Magnolias" at the Fuhrmann Auditorium in the Greater Covington Center for one week beginning Aug. 19. Tickets will be $15 for adults and $10 for students.
Marie Humphries was named treasurer for the organization and Bergeron said the incorporation papers have been filed. Non-profit status for the group is also being sought. Bergeron also said that the Web site is under construction, thanks to sponsorship by St. Tammany Homestead, and should be functioning before Christmas.
CBA President Cliff Bergeron announced that the business association has plans to host a candidate debate for the mayoral election in the spring.
Rick Corder and his wife, JoAnn, were at Tampa International Airport Thursday to pick up friends from Chicago. Toyka Shuler was at the airport Thursday afternoon to drop off her mother, who was heading to Tennessee. All were doing what hundreds of thousands of Tampa Bay residents do each year -- taking advantage of free parking the airport offers for the first hour, implemented five years ago to relieve vehicle congestion by encouraging people to park rather than cruise or linger at curbside arrival and departure lanes.
But soon, they may have to fork over money to park for a short time next to the terminal. Tampa International's one-hour free parking program -- possibly the only one of its kind at major U.S. airports -- might be eliminated to help balance the airport's budget that takes effect Oct. 1.
Making people pay -- $3 an hour under current fees -- will add $2.2 million to the $173.9 million budget. The airport also expects to lay off 20 workers, and planners anticipate 2.2 percent ridership growth to help as well. But even with an increase to 17 million passengers, the airport will continue to suffer from the recession's impact on travel and airport expenditures.
There is disagreement, however, even among the people who will decide, on whether to eliminate the free hour.
"We can say we don't like it, but then we must go back and trim someplace else," said Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, a member of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board that will decide the issue at its Sept. 2 meeting, when it will vote on the new budget.
Board member Al Austin was concerned about eliminating the free hour. "We should approach this very carefully -- and consider public relations," he said.
It is difficult for people to accept a loss of a service to which they have become accustomed.
"I couldn't agree with Commissioner Austin more," said board member Steve Burton.
Sixty percent of the 1.9 million people who park in the garage adjacent to the main terminal stay there for less than an hour and pay no parking fee, airport officials said. That is about 3,120 motorists who use the garage for free each day.
The airport figures that 15 to 20 percent of people in the future will not be willing to pay for parking and will either park in the remote cell phone lot, which gives drivers a free place to idle until their travelers are ready to leave the airport, or head to the curbside passenger zones.
That would result in an additional 35 to 45 vehicles an hour at curbside during peak periods, but airport police would restrict drivers from lingering beyond boarding or unloading passengers quickly, said Ed Cooley, senior director of operations and public safety.
"We believe that will be manageable," Cooley said. "You must look at the reason we did free parking in the first place was because of intolerable congestion on curbsides, but it's not that way any more, with the cell phone lot and fewer passengers."
Tampa airport's free hour parking may be in a class by itself, said Michael Boyd, who heads a Colorado-based airport consulting firm. "If you come to the airport, you pay," he said.
Only a handful of larger airports give any free time: Charlotte, Anchorage, Memphis, Austin, Dallas Love Field and San Antonio give 30 minutes free, while Nashville and Fort Myers airports give the first 20 minutes free, according to their websites.
Each summer, when the deadline for the annual renewal of train station parking permits rolls around, Parking Services Director Allen Corry has been pretty lenient with latecomers. Not this year.
Only half of the more than 5,000 current permit holders renewed by the July 31 deadline, so Corry said he is extending the deadline to Aug. 20. But after that, he's going to the waiting lists.
"We've been very lenient in the past, but we can't do that anymore," Corry said.
Corry said permit holders usually drag their feet around renewal time, and he has given a pass to people who have been on vacation or out of the country. He's even allowed people to renew as late as September.
After renewal forms go out to everyone with a permit before the deadline, the department has to process the permit applications manually, Corry said.
"We try to work with the people, but it makes it difficult to manage because we don't know how many people are going to renew," Corry said.
Last year, the town sold fewer permits than in previous years because of the economy.
The waiting lists are extensive, with close to 600 people seeking $488 permits to park at the covered Greenwich Plaza parking garage between Arch Street and Steamboat Road, and between 300 and 400 residents waiting for $279 permits to park in other lots near the train station.
There are about 200 people on the waiting list at the Riverside train station, while Cos Cob and Old Greenwich have much smaller waiting lists, with a couple dozen residents, according to Corry.
About 3,000 people have renewed so far this year, including many who sent in their forms after the deadline.
Diagonal parking spaces will remain in downtown Canton. The city administration has decided to maintain the parking arrangement, despite a request from City Council late last year to eliminate the back-in angle spots.
Former Councilman Donald Casar, D-at large, had been critical of the back-in diagonal parking concept. Casar submitted an informal resolution on the subject, which was passed by council in December.
According to the resolution, "numerous citizens and residents ... complained to various council members of the physical difficulty involved in backing into (an angled parking space)."
The resolution had directed the safety director and parking management division to restore parallel parking or implement pull-in angle parking on all streets where back-in angle parking spaces exist. The changes were requested to be made by July 1.
Angled parking spaces are on Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth streets NW. The change created 63 more spaces in the downtown area.
City Engineer Daniel Moeglin recently completed a comprehensive report on the subject at the request of Safety Director Thomas Ream.
Law Director Joseph Martuccio said that the informal resolution is not binding because it was passed during a 2009 session of council. A new council session began in 2010 following November's election.
Also, "that resolution was not binding because it's sort of an expression of will or collective intent," Martuccio added.
Diagonal spaces first were added in the summer of 2005.
Studies and the review of other cities "show that back-in diagonal parking would be safest for the public," Moeglin wrote in his report.
In 2008, diagonal spaces were added on more downtown streets. Some downtown businesses also had requested more back-in diagonal parking, Moeglin wrote in the report.
Moeglin said he could not "in good conscience, direct the installation of pull-in diagonal parking on city streets since experience shows that it will result in increased accidents and injuries."
"In summary, I strongly oppose the implementation of the informal resolution ... based on the increased number of parking spaces and meters that this current parking layout provides and the dangerous backing out condition that will occur," Moeglin wrote in his report.
Parallel parking spaces and decks and lots also are available downtown, he said.
Parking revenue has increased, Moeglin said, mostly due to raising the parking meter rate from 25 cents to 75 cents an hour, Moeglin said. "However, the potential for 63 more meters and its revenue did impact the total meter revenue," he wrote. Moeglin provided what he called "a very conservative example" - 30 meters being used seven hours a day, five days a week throughout the year, equating to roughly $40,000 in the city's general fund.
Moeglin said that while drivers easily can pull forward into an angled space, backing out is more difficult.
"Unless no one is parked next to you, it is very difficult to see if a vehicle is coming," he said. "This blind backing out maneuver has the most potential for accidents to occur, in that you are halfway into the through lane before the presence of oncoming traffic can be seen."
Diagonal back-in is the newest type of parking for cities and the most preferred, Moeglin wrote in the report. Backing into the spaces is similar to backing into a parallel parking space "and requires some backing-up skills and good visibility and use of rearview mirrors," he wrote.
The current angle parking arrangement is also "traffic calming for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, aiding development of downtown's commercial/entertainment/cultural attractiveness, (and it provides) a financial impact to both business and (the) city's general fund," Moeglin wrote.
Ream, the city safety director, said he also considered the additional costs associated with a change in the parking scheme. "I concur with (Moeglin) and recommend that it would be ill advised to further entertain a parking change in the downtown area at this time."