Silver Spring could soon use some new technology when it comes to finding and paying for parking.
If approved, streets could have new vehicle sensors that could monitor whether a space is occupied and parking garages could have electronic signs showing the number of spaces available. Cellphones could show where parking is available and at what cost.
“It shows we are constantly trying to be ahead of the game,” said Reemberto Rodriguez, director of the Silver Spring Regional Center.
Rick Siebert, division chief from the Montgomery County Parking Lot Division Department, described the new parking system management at the Sept. 19 meeting of the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Committee.
“My purpose explaining the direction was to show that we are seeking the ‘integrate approach’ and allow all of our customers to pay for parking with credit card, which it would be easier for customers,” Siebert said.
Cellphone applications would tell motorists which spaces are available inside the garage and on the street while showing how much it costs to park at the chosen location.
“The hard thing is that the standard meters are working fine. They just don’t have the features that the customers want to see,” Siebert said.
The presentation was just the beginning of a long process.
“This will be a multi-year program because this will be a fairly expensive project,” said Siebert adding that the project is still in the initial phase of development.
Officials still are estimating costs, but they hope to start generating community support. The parking system management idea will be presented to County Executive Isiah Leggett in March, and, after studying the proposal, may be a recommendation for County Council approval.
“Realistically, it will be a number of years before the vision is completely done,” Siebert said.
Advisory committee member Ernest Bland said he liked the idea of more intelligent parking in the garages. But he added he is not excited about having street sensors that will go back to zero after a car has left even if the person did not stay for the entire paid time. The street sensor pads would be used to make sure drivers leave a parking space after the time limit expires instead of just feeding the meter for more time in the space.
Bland also said he does not want Silver Spring to become like Bethesda where the parking prices are higher.
On-street, lots and garages in Silver Spring charge $1 an hour up to four hours; $.65 per hour for parking longer than four hours. In Bethesda, the on-street short-term parking rate is double the Silver Spring rate at $2 an hour up to four hours. A discounted rate is available in Bethesda in long-term and short-term garages and lots.