DOT set to enforce parking fee at train station
WEST HAVEN — The free ride will be over soon for those who have been parking at the train station without paying the fee, as the state’s Department of Transportation is about to crack down.
“The CTDOT will soon be starting parking enforcement activities at the West Haven Station lot,” said DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick. “Our estimation is that roughly one quarter of vehicles in the facility are parked illegally.”
He would not release details of the enforcement plan.
Nursick’s statement comes on the heels of Michael Mercuriano, longtime chairman of the city’s Railroad Station Committee, renewing his call for the DOT to build a parking garage that was part of the plan for the $130 million train station, but never built.
Mercuriano said there is a severe shortage of spaces and it’s dangerous because people speed around frantically looking for spaces.
He wants legislators to write a bill to fund the garage. Mercuriano said a garage would generate income and solve the shortage.
He said the DOT has been “promising enforcement for years, but nothing happens.”
But Nursick said enforcement — the parking fee is paid electronically through a machine on premises — would free up many spaces for paying customers.
“With enforcement activities set to begin, we expect additional spaces to be available to commuters,” Nursick said. “The CTDOT is not pursuing the construction of a parking garage.”
Mercuriano said the popular train station — his passion — attracts riders from the shoreline, Orange, Bethany and beyond, as many would rather not use the New Haven train station. The Metro-North railroad station opened in August 2013.
He said that by not building the parking garage, the state “has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars” in fees.
Parking is currently paid for by obtaining a ticket at a machine, making it a kind of honor system, because no one is there to enforce payment.
“The citizens of Connecticut have been shortchanged,” Mercuriano said.
Mercuriano, who has lobbied several years for the garage, said he’s seen people driving 35 miles per hour, desperate for spaces, to catch a train.
“Someone’s going to get hurt speeding all around,” he said. “I would like our legislative committee to get together and write a bill.”
Mercuriano estimates there are 600-plus cars parked daily at the station and a garage — originally slated to be built between Railroad Avenue and Hood Terrace — would provide another 500 parking spaces.
The West Haven train station on Railroad Avenue.