Pay-by-plate parking starts next week

500 machines will replace 3,000 single-space street meters and create 500 new spaces


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Come Thursday, motorists no longer will need quarters to purchase on-street parking time on the North Shore. Plastic -- and a license plate number -- will do.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority will unveil the first of 560 new multispace metering devices that accept credit cards in addition to quarters on streets in the vicinity of PNC Park. Motorists will have to punch in their license-plate numbers as part of a new, electronic parking-enforcement initiative.

The authority says it will be the first in the nation to use so-called pay-by-plate technology on a wide scale.

Five hundred machines will be used to replace 3,000 single-space street meters and create 500 new spaces Downtown and on the North Shore, Oakland, South Side and Strip District. The single-space meters accept only quarters -- something that's increasing aggravated motorists since city council's five-year package of rate increases began taking effect last year.

Sixty of the new machines will replace existing multispace metering devices in Market Square, Downtown; the Schenley Plaza area of Oakland; and in metered lots citywide. The existing machines accept coins or credit cards. Instead of requiring license plates, however, the existing devices print out time-stamped receipts that motorists put on their windshields.

The authority paid more than $7 million for the new machines and a seven-year maintenance plan. All machines will be installed by mid-September, said David Onorato, parking authority executive director.

"The project is moving along well," he said.

A dozen machines will be installed on the North Shore. They'll be put into service after the ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at 115 Federal St.

The authority also is considering other capital projects. It's soliciting proposals for a financial adviser who would help the authority decide whether it should undertake a new borrowing.

Mr. Onorato said the money could be used to work with the city Urban Redevelopment Authority on a new garage at the site of the former Saks store, Downtown; to demolish and rebuild the authority's garage at Ninth Street and Penn Avenue; or to work with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust on construction of a new garage on trust-owned property near Ninth and Penn.

The authority will spend as much as $200,000 to install credit-card payment equipment to exits at the Ninth/Penn, Third Avenue and Wood/Allies garage Downtown, and the Forbes Semple garage in Oakland.

Right now, motorists must pay for parking at pay stations in the garages' lobbies. However, Mr. Onorato said some motorists don't follow that procedure and get stuck at the exits with traffic backing up behind them.

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Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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