DOT set to en­force park­ing fee at train sta­tion

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - NEWS - By Pam McLough­lin

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.

Con­trib­uted photo

The West Haven train sta­tion on Rail­road Av­enue.

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