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Montpelier to test new parking plan this winter

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 1:53 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Parking will be different in Vermont’s capital city this winter. The Montpelier City Council Wednesday unanimously approved proposed changes to the parking ban that allows drivers to park on alternating sides of the street depending on what day it is.

On odd-numbered days, drivers must park on the side of the road where the houses are also odd-numbered. The next day, drivers will be required to park across the street on the even-numbered side.

City Councilor Dona Bate believes this policy will be less confusing for drivers. “Not only our residents but visitors can catch on real quick,” Bate said. “People are really good about telling one another, ‘Oh no you can’t park there.’”

Currently, the city sends out parking ban alerts when a snowstorm is in the forecast. That ban applies to all city streets, but under the new system it will only apply to one side of the street. Bate believes the alternating parking plan will be more beneficial to snow plowing crews and tow trucks as well. “People would perceive ‘Oh, it’s not snowing enough. I don’t have to move.’ And we literally were clogging all the towing companies by towing the cars that were in the road,” she said. “So, you not only had to wait for the tow truck to remove the cars, but then sometimes the tow truck couldn’t ever come. There were just too many vehicles for them to store.”

Some people who spoke during public comment during Wednesday’s meeting were skeptical of the plan. “To craft it as an ordinance that’s going to take all of the necessarily-Montpelier visitors by surprise is shortsighted, I think,” said one resident.

Others think the timing is just right because of the pandemic. “Maybe this isn’t a bad winter to try this out because of the pandemic,” said another resident. “I think people are already deterred from going out in the evening during the winter in Vermont, and I have a hard time imagining that we’re going to get a lot of out-of-state visitors.”

Parking will be permitted downtown wherever there’s a parking meter. On streets where meters are only on one side of the road, drivers can park there every day regardless of the calendar day.

The plan goes into effect on November 15th. Drivers found out of compliance will get warnings for the few first weeks but tickets and towing will begin in late December.

The Public Works Department will be assessing the program along the way to see what works and what doesn’t.

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