The D.C. Council will take up emergency legislation on Wednesday that pumps nearly $3 million more into parking meter upkeep and upgrades than the city originally budgeted.
The city underestimated by $2.9 million how much it would cost to upgrade and maintain the meters and had to ask for he additional money after completing the bidding process for the contract, District Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle said. Most of the money will pay for technology upgrades to connect 6,000 parking spaces to a central network, allowing the District Department of Transportation to see what's going on at the parking space -- such as when it's empty --to better design parking plans, said agency officials.
"Our goal is to network the entire system [of parking meters]," DDOT spokeswoman Monica Hernandez said.
The network and parking meter sensors will cost about $1 million. The rest of the money will pay credit-card processing fees for meters that accept the cards and to match a federal grant for "performance parking," which allows the city to charge different prices at meters based on the time of day and other factors.
Transportation officials said they added credit-card payments to meters to make them more accessible.
"The maintenance of these meters -- so they can continue to be accessible by all residents -- has become more complicated and more expensive," according to a description of the bill from sponsor and Ward 3 Democrat Mary Cheh's office. "Without the funds for the increased parking meter maintenance contract, there would be an unnecessary delay for all residents to use the new and accessible meters."
The money for the meter upkeep will come from $6 million in additional revenue expected from parking meters next year, a spokesman for Cheh said.
The emergency funding is one of three transportation bills Cheh will bring to council Wednesday.
Another bill would change the law that now strips D.C. drivers of their licenses if they are charged with reckless driving in Virginia. Because the District and Virginia have different standards for reckless driving, "this penalty has negatively affected many residents, a memo from Cheh's office said.
The third bill would allow DDOT to accept $1 million in federal money and to partner with a local nonprofit to provide bus and van service to elderly and disabled residents.