Program's pause opens hundreds of D.C. parking spaces

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

Drivers have up to 500 more parking spaces to choose from in the District after the D.C. Council stopped a new program that was supposed to crack down on the fraudulent use of handicapped parking permits, city officials said Wednesday.

The District Department of Transportation had installed up to 500 parking meters with red tops before legislators halted the plan on Tuesday. Spaces with those meters were to be reserved for disabled drivers and, for the same price as a regular meter, would provide twice as much time as typically allowed.

But on Wednesday, DDOT said those designated spaces are now open to any driver while the city evaluates the future of the special meters.

Red-topped rules (for now)
Regular meters: Regular rate and length of permitted parking for non-disabled drivers; drivers with disabled placards park for free for twice the normal amount of time
Red-topped meters: Any driver can park for twice the normal amount of time; drivers with disabled placards can park for free for twice the normal amount of time

"Persons displaying disability placards or plates can park for twice as long without paying. Everyone else has to pay for however long you park," DDOT spokesman John Lisle said. "The red-top meters already installed are set to allow you to pay for twice the time, so unless we reprogram them, then anyone could pay to park there for four hours instead of two hours, if the normal time limit is two hours."

Mayor Vincent Gray defended the program that drew the ire of legislators and advocates for people with disabilities who said the new parking fees -- disabled drivers could previously park for free -- were an insult.

"We think that as more information rolls out on this, we think people will become more comfortable on what we're trying to accomplish here," Gray said.

Gray said a 90-day review of the program will help officials ensure they've considered the opinions of people who may have been overlooked.

"This will give us an opportunity to circle back and make sure those people are included," Gray said.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner