Hundreds face towing fees, fines for parking on snow routes

February 25, 2003|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

Across the city last week, hundreds of residents whose cars were parked on snow emergency routes failed to heed warnings to dig out their vehicles and move them elsewhere.

So now those car owners are digging into their pockets to pay hefty fines and towing fees.

More than 2,000 citations were issued and more than 800 cars were towed during Baltimore's history-making snowstorm that dumped more than two feet of snow here, said Adrienne Barnes, spokeswoman for the Office of Transportation.

"For some people, this got to be pretty expensive, unfortunately," Barnes said. "But we were very lenient."

Tickets cost $52 plus fees, which varied, Barnes said.

When the heavy snow started Feb. 16, the city did not immediately tow, Barnes said.

"But as the storm progressed and we found we were having a real problem with our snow-removal effort, we started issuing tickets," she said.

Barnes said city officials were reluctant to tow cars but were left with no choice.

"We did not start moving vehicles until late Sunday or even early Monday morning in some cases," she said. "We continued with the message on the TV and radio stations. All day we kept reminding motorists to move their cars. That really hindered our snow plowing efforts. We weren't able to effectively push the snow back to open up all lanes for travel, and, inadvertently it had an effect on traffic."

Surprisingly, Barnes said, the city hasn't been inundated with complaints from residents whose cars were towed.

"I don't really know why we didn't have a lot of complaints," she said. "I guess they just knew they were wrong."

People were required to call 311 to find out where their cars had been towed, Barnes said. Many were taken to Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore. Others were taken to Lake Montebello and the Polytechnic Institute-Western High School campus. .

To help clear the streets, the city allowed motorists to park in lots at public schools and recreational facilities, Barnes said.

"It was a taxing effort on the city's part to get people up and moving," she said. "More people own cars now than they did years ago. Snow-removal efforts are more challenging now, but we feel like residents were cooperative for the most part."

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