MARC lot spillover irks some Commuters park on Odenton streets to avoid ice, snow

March 19, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

The weekend blizzard that paralyzed Maryland still has a grip on an Odenton parking lot, where spaces stolen by snow are forcing commuters onto residential streets.

For three days, residents who live near the Odenton MARC train station have complained to police about cars blocking driveways and roads and sitting on front lawns.

The dispute seems to have broken an uneasy truce between commuters and residents, who agree that the parking lot near Odenton and Patuxent roads is inadequate.

Commuters are complaining that the state Mass Transit Administration did a poor job plowing the 400-space lot, exacerbating an already crowded situation.

The unplowed road shoulders forced dozens of cars to park along the side streets, with many sticking into the road.

Dave Mauriello, a Severna Park resident who works for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, said he got off the train Tuesday evening, only to find a county police officer writing him a $50 ticket alleging his car blocked the road.

"We think some of the neighbors don't like us parking in front of their homes," Mr. Mauriello said. "But it's not illegal. The state did a half-baked job of cleaning the lot. A lot of people were unable to find parking.

"I realize that we can't keep making parking lots and pave the whole county," he said. "But don't add insult to injury by ticketing us. Everybody is trying to get around in the snow."

Mr. Mauriello, who had his wife drop him off at the station yesterday morning, said cars lined Odenton Road for blocks Tuesday and Wednesday. He said officers were ticketing cars just as commuters were getting off trains during the evening rush hour.

Capt. Tim Bowman, commander of the Western District station, said he toured the area Tuesday in response to complaints from residents. He said it is an ongoing problem made worse by the snow.

"The commuters feel restricted because they have to get to work and the residents feel restricted because they have to get out of their driveways," the captain said. "And the Police Department is caught in the middle."

Captain Bowman said three cars were towed from the area this week, one because it blocked a driveway and two because they blocked a lane of traffic on Odenton Road.

But in most cases, he said, officers are being lenient about the law, which forbids cars parked along the road from being in a travel lane. "As long as the car is not blocking the roadside, the officers won't enforce the violation," he said.

That won't last long, however. Captain Bowman said that, for now, most of the drivers are receiving warnings.

"This can't be tolerated indefinitely," he said. "But there is no easy answer to it. Parking is difficult even on the best day. There aren't enough parking spaces to begin with."

Two nearby residents, including one who called the police to have a car blocking her driveway towed, said they sympathize with the commuters.

"I think the commuters are in a bind," said Diane Boring, who lives on Odenton Road. "I don't like cars in my yard, but I don't have a problem. Apparently, they need space to park or they need to car pool."

A visit to the parking lot yesterday showed improved conditions. About 20 cars lined Odenton Road, and only a handful had tickets on their windshields. Those were parked near a curb directly under a "No Parking" sign.

The lot, however, was jammed -- with cars double- and triple-parked, travel lanes blocked and cars parked on sidewalks and on top of small snow banks.

Relief may be in sight. Diane Rosboro, an MTA spokeswoman, said a long-awaited parking lot with 700 spaces on the west side of the tracks is in the final design stages.

She said the project will be put out for bids as soon as the state Board of Public Works gives its approval.

Ms. Rosboro also said work crews have been clearing snow off the parking lot since Friday night. "This was a blizzard," she said. "It wasn't easy."

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