At Philly airport, roadside-parking crackdown snares at least 16

Posted: September 01, 2009

Tall grass towered over the nearly 10 cars and vans parked along the shoulder of the Industrial Highway - all awaiting arriving flights yesterday afternoon at nearby Philadelphia International Airport.

In state police cruisers, Cpls. Derrick Watford and William Cauley swooped down, pulling behind an SUV and a car, while other motorists took off like geese in the wetlands.

Left behind was a 31-year-old Bethlehem woman and her 3-year-old daughter who had just driven an hour to the airport and had stopped the tan GMC Yukon to check the arrival time of her husband's flight.

"I was stopped. I didn't know I was doing anything wrong," she said, declining to give her name. "I didn't see a sign."

State police "swarmed in, and everyone took off, and I was wondering why," she added.

Handed a $97 traffic citation, the woman was caught in the first day of the state-police crackdown on illegal parking, stopping and standing on the shoulder of the ramps and roads leading to the increasingly crowded airport.

She was one of 16 motorists who, during nine hours of surveillance, were cited for parking or waiting on the shoulders of ramps and roads, said State Police Sgt. Shawn Toboz. More than a dozen others got warnings, Toboz said.

By noon yesterday, PennDOT workers had installed 33 red-and-white signs, about 3-by-4 feet, that read: "No Stopping or Standing. Use Bartram Avenue Park & Ride Lot to wait for arriving flights."

Signs were posted every 50 feet on the airport's arrival ramp, and on northbound and southbound I-95, but apparently none was posted along the Industrial Highway, known as Route 291.

By late afternoon, motorists and politicians were complaining that there were no signs pointing to PennDOT's Park & Ride Lot, where motorists could park for free in nearly 60 spaces until flights arrived.

"When I'm assigned to this zone, it's usually bumper-to-bumper parked cars," said State Trooper Thomas Falcon, after surveying the arrival ramp with no waiting vehicles. "Those signs are working, but there's also been a bigger police presence."

In addition, the media had been reporting the crackdown all day on TV, radio and news Web sites.

The Bethlehem woman was held for at least an hour because her tot was not in a car seat. The state police radioed for a car seat to be brought to the scene.

"We can't let her go because she has an unrestrained child, and could be in a crash," State Trooper Thomas Falcon said.

Cauley told the mother that she could return the car seat to the state police barracks in Bethlehem, and gave her typed directions to the Bartram Park & Go Lot, "where you're not going to get into any trouble."

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