Berlin Parking, Mobility Study Underway

BERLIN – The holiday season is expected to provide plenty of data for the consultants conducting the town’s parking and mobility study.

Representatives from Sabra and Associates, the civil engineering firm hired to conduct a parking and mobility study in Berlin, were in town during last month’s tree lighting and were expected to visit this week during the town’s peak holiday shopping time.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to see what the parking needs are downtown,” Town Administrator Laura Allen said.

Allen said the firm was looking at where cars were parking, how long they were parked and other traffic issues. Representatives of the firm have also interviewed a variety of local people, including town staff, merchants and Berlin Chamber of Commerce officials. They even talked to local church leaders and the town’s bicycle and pedestrian advocates.

“We’re looking at not just parking but mobility in general,” Allen said. “We had a nice array of participants. People were eager to be included.”

She said an early issue the consulting firm had identified was a need for parking for employees of local businesses. Beyond that, Allen said it was too early for many other conclusions.

“They’re still in the information gathering stage,” she said.

When asked if implementing paid parking was an option being reviewed, Allen said that it was being considered.

“Paid parking is definitely on the table but so are a lot of other things,” she said.

Allen explained that the scope of the project had included a review of a variety of alternatives for the town, including paid parking as well as possibilities such as valet parking and shuttle service. She added that the array of smartphone apps now available would make paid parking easier to implement than it ever would have been in the past.

“There are ways of doing things now that weren’t available even a few years ago,” she said.

Allen expects Sabra and Associates to provide the town with a preliminary report in January or February. She says the company could be asked to return in the summer as well.

“I think the council’s interested in doing this right as opposed to fast,” she said. “I think this could be an ongoing conversation.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.