On-street parking to continue on York Road

Study shows traffic unaffected by standing

July 29, 1999|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

On-street nighttime parking will continue along York Road in the heart of Towson, boosting business leaders' hopes of revitalizing the struggling downtown district.

After a long-awaited traffic study, the State Highway Administration said recently that the 15 to 20 parking spaces on York Road between Chesapeake and Pennsylvania avenues are not causing congestion and should not be eliminated during the evening hours.

The study was initiated by the SHA after motorists complained about congestion along that section of state-maintained York Road, which is home to a number of restaurants and stores.

Business owners argued that eliminating parking could hurt their ability to attract pedestrian traffic to an area that already has too many empty storefronts.

"It sounds trivial, but if you can turn those [parking spaces] over a number of times during the night, that's money stopping here," said Joseph Varvaro, owner of Angel's Grotto, a pub in the 400 block of York Road. "We fight to stay alive on this little strip in Towson. We fight the gigantic malls, we fight the shopping centers. Everything can hurt us, so we need all the help we can get."

In recent years, Towson business and county officials have been working toward revitalizing the business district. New sidewalks have been built, a traffic roundabout was constructed and the old Hutzler's building was renovated with new stores. Still, smaller businesses have struggled to compete with the nearby mall.

Motorists usually must pay for parking in garages and at meters on the streets. Most meters run until 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. But on York Road, free parking is allowed in a northbound lane after 7 p.m. -- a convenience used by many pub and restaurant patrons.

State Highway workers examined the three-block section of York Road for two weeks in June, said Randall Scott, SHA assistant district engineer for traffic, but found no significant problems associated with parked vehicles.

In a related matter, the SHA study showed that about one of every four motorists drives through Towson on York Road without stopping, Scott said.

Towson business leaders have long complained that motorists use York Road as a speedway through Towson without stopping to shop.

If the county took possession of York Road, they could lower the speed limit or put more parking on the road, said County Councilman Wayne M. Skinner, a Towson Republican.

"We have to start making some serious decisions on what to do with York Road," Skinner said recently. "One of the goals that Towson business people have had for years is for us to take possession of it."

Pub Date: 7/29/99

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