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Lake Ridge Lot Gets Cold Shoulder
'Slugs' Choose Sides Of Roads Over New Commuter Parking Area

March 15, 1997 
By Justin Blum, Washington Post Staff Writer

  The opening of a Lake Ridge commuter lot last year was heralded as
 a way to get people to ditch their cars and catch a bus or car pool.
       Five hundred and eighty freshly paved spaces. Bright lights. Bus
 shelters. Pay phones. What more could a commuter want?
      But nearly five months after the $3.1 million lot opened at Old
 Bridge and Minnieville roads, commuters still are doing what
 transportation officials said they thought the lot would deter --
 parking on the shoulders of surrounding roads.
      It's not for lack of parking in the new lot, which remains less
 than half full. The explanation is simple: "slugs," those commuters who
 hitch rides with single drivers who want to use high occupancy vehicle
 lanes on Interstate 95.
     Slugs traditionally line up closer to the shoulders where they park
 than to the new commuter lot. What's more, some slugs said they tried
 parking in the lot but found they had to dodge heavy traffic as they
 walked across Minnieville Road to get to the slug line.
      In the next few months, the Virginia Department of Transportation
 is planning to ban parking on Old Bridge and Minnieville roads because
 of safety concerns.
      "It's so convenient," said Christina Jones, 27, of Lake Ridge, as
 she left her car on the shoulder of Old Bridge this week. "It's so much
 easier to get to slugging instead of crossing the street and parking."
      A shorter, competing slug line occasionally forms at the new
 commuter lot. Some of the more traditional slugs, such as Greg Jones,
 48, of Lake Ridge, view people who use that line as "cheats" because
 they don't wait in the longer line.
       Most people park in a lot, and far fewer park along Old Bridge
 than did before the new lot was built. But there are plenty of
 incorrigibles.
      "Old habits die hard," said Beverly Le Masters, a spokeswoman for
 the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, whose buses stop
 at the new lot. "It just takes another few minutes if you go in the lot.
 People are time-sensitive in the morning, especially when you're trying
 to get in there and get a bus."
      Typically, about 20 cars are parked along Old Bridge Road, 10 on
 Minnieville Road and others along Tacketts Mill Drive, which runs
 between the traditional slug line and the new commuter lot.
      The Tacketts Mill shopping center lot includes 180 designated
 commuter parking spaces, but the transportation department developed the
 new lot across the street partially because the shopping center didn't
 have enough commuter spaces.
      Traffic planners say parking on the Old Bridge and Minnieville
 shoulders is dangerous. In rush hour, commuters pull onto the road in
 front of oncoming traffic. What's more, people who park there risk
 getting hit by passing vehicles. So the transportation department plans
 to install no-parking signs along Old Bridge and Minnieville roads.
      "We're not trying to be hard about it," said transportation
 department traffic engineer Steve Stevens. "But now that there's more
 parking available, it's just not practical to allow people to pull into
 traffic."
      But Old Bridge parkers maintain parking there is safer than
 crossing Minnieville Road -- even though the transportation department
 recently painted a crosswalk there.
      "I make sure before I get out of the car that nothing's coming my
 way," said Janet Lee, 32, of Lake Ridge. "And at night, I can just get
 in my car and pull out." The state Department of Transportation is planning to ban on
 parking on shoulders such as this one on Old Bridge Road.
 Copyright 1997  The Washington Post
 
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