April 24, 2024
Annapolis, US 71 F

Annapolis to Introduce $75 Daily “Congestion Fee” in Ward 1

Following in New York City’s footsteps, the historic city of Annapolis is set to revolutionize urban mobility by introducing a $75 daily fee for passenger cars and delivery trucks driving through Ward 1. This bold move, announced by Annapolis Mayor, Gavin Buckley today, aims to alleviate traffic congestion, though some suspect it might be more about alleviating wallets.

To navigate around this hefty fee, cars can park at the Navy Stadium for a modest $10 per day and rent a golf cart for a $50 daily rate. Parking for golf carts will be free in designated areas. According to the City’s Transportation Director, Markus Moore, “for every car off the street, we can park four golf carts.”

Free parking is available in the Eastport section for those finding the golf cart rental a bit over par. Here, the city will experiment with what the Mayor calls a ‘Double Parking Bonanza’ on Chesapeake Avenue, but only between 4th and 5th Streets. Feel free to double park on both sides of the street in this block. Drivers will need to leave their keys in the vehicle in order to move them in case of emergency. The block will be monitored 24-7 by remote cameras to prevent any illegal activity. Buckley said, “Not only does this double the parking in this block, it will allow residents and visitors a much more convenient parking experience when dining in our wonderful Fourth Street restaurants or walking over the bridge to explore Downtown.” The Mayor also said that the residents of that block are appreciative of the efforts of the City since it adds a great element of safety–video surveillance and with double parking it will naturally slow down any through traffic.

To promote alternative transportation, residents, and visitors can catch a planned ferry from Eastport, zip around on Bird Scooters, or embrace the age-old tradition of walking. In a statement that might raise a few eyebrows, Mayor Buckley said, “This will greatly reduce congestion downtown, ensuring parking is available for the kind of people we want downtown.” It seems the Mayor is not only cleaning up the streets but also curating the clientele.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Elly Tierney expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “Frankly, our residents can’t stand some people that come downtown. If this keeps the riff-raff out, we are all in.” Her comment suggests a new urban strategy: charge them if you can’t stand them.

The new fee is planned to go into effect just after the Legislators leave from the General Assembly session and just before the visitors arrive for Commissioning week. When asked about the timing of the implementation of the new fee, the Mayor said, “Look, we just built a state-of-the-art garage, and it ain’t gonna pay for itself.”

Amidst these traffic-taming measures, Mayor Buckley hinted at an additional fiscal motivation. “As everyone knows, we’re redesigning City Dock. My children – I mean, my staff – are almost done with the designs they want to see.” This slip of the tongue raises questions about the project’s myriad of plans that have been floated to different groups depending on what they want to hear.

Moreover, the Mayor revealed a financial twist, admitting that the new fees are a means to fund the City Dock project since expected federal grants have vanished like cars from Main Street. “These fees will enable us to pay for part of the project while we figure out how to pay for the rest,” he explained, suggesting yet another creative, if not controversial, approach to urban financing. The Mayor financed the garage by granting a 30-year contract for parking fees to the contractor since the City could not afford it. Buckley said a similar program may be necessary for the City Dock project and the Council is considering auctioning off Ward 6 to the highest bidders. We have learned that Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman is very interested.

Speaking of Main Street, Mayor Buckley will realize his long-held desire to banish parking on Main Street and Maryland Avenue to reinstate the “wildly popular” bike lane.

In a possibly related story, whispers around the city suggest that Julie Buckley, the Mayor’s wife, has astutely invested in several thousand shares of Clubman Golf Carts and purchased the exclusive rental and franchising rights for Anne Arundel County. While the Mayor’s office hasn’t commented on this coincidence, it does add a new angle to the phrase ‘family business.’

To make it more convenient and seamless for customers, the fee will be automatically added to the EZ Pass invoice for vehicles. Vehicles without an EZ Pass transponder will be mailed an invoice, with a $25 convenience fee added.

This flurry of mobility and economic strategies in Annapolis has left some residents confused and others gearing up for a greener, quieter downtown. Whether this plan is a stroke of genius or a swing and a miss remains to be seen. As the city gears up for these changes, one thing is certain: Annapolis is driving headlong into a future that is anything but parked.

You can see all details of the plan here!

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