Airport no-parking campaign is working

Posted: September 03, 2009

The call by U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak this week to stop the ticketing of cars parked illegally on the ramps and roads leading to the Philadelphia International Airport may not be necessary.

The reason: No cars were parked illegally yesterday.

In other words, a media blitz about the state police and PennDOT's campaign - warning illegally parked motorists awaiting flight arrivals that they'd be ticketed for $97 to $147 - actually worked.

No tickets were issued yesterday as of 3:30 p.m., said Capt. David Young, of the State Police Barracks on Belmont Avenue in Philadelphia.

And only four tickets were issued Tuesday night, whereas 16 tickets and more than two dozen warnings were issued on Monday, according to state police.

"People are getting the message," Young added. "We are enforcing the law."

Yesterday, Rina Cutler, the mayor's deputy secretary for transportation, called for a Sept. 14 meeting to discuss signage on interstate highways with PennDOT, the Federal Highway Administration officials in Harrisburg and Philadelphia International Airport, according to Cutler's spokesman.

Calling the ticketing "unfair," Sestak wrote on Tuesday to PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration seeking a revised policy and a delay of imposing fines.

"Everyone who has ever used the airport knows that this location has become a convenient place for those arriving to pick up passengers; the alternative is having to pay unduly high parking fees," Sestak wrote in a letter to Victor Mendez of the Federal Highway Administration.

Sestak, who is running for Arlen Specter's seat in the U.S. Senate, also called for a meeting with city, state, federal and airport officials to find a free-access near-term parking lot for motorists.

Catherine Rossi, a spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association, applauded Sestak's efforts on behalf of motorists.

But Jenny Robinson, spokeswoman for PennDOT, said, "The state police are doing a fine job.

"This is not a new issue," she added. "Before the state police patrolled the area, the Philadelphia Police Highway Patrol did. It's not safe to stop on a highway that carries up to 150,000 cars a day on an interstate highway where you can get hit, hurt or killed."

Young said that since December, the state police have issued warnings or have chased vehicles from parking on the shoulders of the airport ramps and roads, but that did not stop the problem.

The agency enlisted PennDOT, which put up movable electronic-message signs, which read "No Parking, Stopping or Standing."

Then, on Monday, state police began a crackdown issuing tickets after PennDOT erected 33 red-and-white signs 50 feet apart warning "No Standing, Stopping or Parking" on the shoulders of the roads, and a message for motorists to use the Bartram Avenue "Park & Go" Lot.

Because of signage problems, motorists had difficulty finding the lot, where they can wait to pick up friends and family at the airport.

"Nothing seemed to work until this week," said Young, of combating the illegal parking.

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