New parking meters meant to encourage garage parking

GAITHERSBURG, Md. – Starting June 1, drivers going to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and the surrounding medical buildings will have to pay to park on the street.

Montgomery County crews are currently installing 360 parking meters on Medical Center Drive as well as Broschart and Blackwell Roads.

“Our policy is where parking is highly utilized in a commercial area, we install paid parking meters. We’ve been doing it for 15 years in the North Bethesda area,” says Rick Siebert, Chief of the Montgomery County Division of Parking Management.

Crews are currently out laying out the electrical equipment for the meter pipes coming out of the ground. Once that’s completed in the next week or so, the meter heads themselves will be placed on top and the equipment will be calibrated.

“As each of the meters are installed on the pipes, then we will begin charging individually meter by meter,” says Siebert. “We should have the first meter installed and working in the last week in May and all of them should be completed by the first of June, perhaps even earlier.”

Most of the 360 meters will be long-term meters, meaning drivers will have to pay $0.65 cents per hour for up to 15 hours. All long-term meters are painted silver on top allowing drivers to visually tell what type of meter is in from their car.

Short-term meters are color-coded such as blue for two-hour meters.

Siebert says he hopes the paid parking meters will actually convince other drivers to use the paid parking garages in the buildings themselves, freeing up street spots for other drivers.

“What we’re learning is drivers are circling the block too much to try and find a spot, wasting gas until they’re lucky enough to find a spot. This will increase capacity and if you’re looking for a street spot, it should be easier once we start charging,” he says.

Some drivers will naturally call this a money grab for Montgomery County. But Siebert counters that lower congestion around the hospital and adjacent medical buildings will benefit everyone.

The parking meters will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

As far as a medical emergency, Siebert says his agency will be understanding of those situations.

“Just send us some documentation about your medical emergency and we’d be happy to administratively void any ticket for an expired meter,” he says.

Montgomery County officials hope the meters will generate about $37,000 per year, which Siebert says will go toward Ride-On bus service.

One drawback: the meters will only accept coins. Pay-by-cell services like ParkMobile are not going to be available.

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