- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2003

Confusion between Montgomery County officials and Metro led to a messy and frustrating rush-hour parking muddle yesterday morning at the Shady Grove Station.

“I had trouble parking because they plowed the snow into parking spaces,” said Max Fratoddi, 56, of Gaithersburg.

In response to inquiries by The Washington Times, Montgomery County officials said they sent snow removal crews out yesterday afternoon to clear off the newest of two Shady Grove parking garages, but commuters returning to the garage for the evening commute said the top level of the taller garage looked as if it had gone untouched by plows.

“Actually, we didn’t know anything about it,” said Esther Bowring of the county’s public information office. “There was confusion about transition of the garage.”

Montgomery County built the garage and is responsible for maintenance, including snow clearance, until control of the garage is transferred to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Ms. Bowring explained.

Taryn McNeil, public information officer for Metro rail and bus lines, said WMATA had received no complaints and referred questions to Montgomery County, which is responsible for keeping parking spaces clear at that station.

“The real problem this morning was that this whole lot was a sheet of ice,” said Gina Eosco, 26, of Rockville. “They did try. You can tell that, but the plow can’t take care of the ice.”

About noon yesterday, Chet Anderson, 60, of Dickerson, Md., searched for a parking space, driving through all floors of one garage, then through the parking lot, and finally to the roof of the second garage.

Asked if he had trouble, Mr. Anderson said, “Oh, boy, did we. We got the last spot.”

Many cars were parked crookedly. Melting snow revealed they were sitting across yellow parking lines. A Jeep Liberty was parked atop a snowbank.

Two to four inches of snow fell in the Washington area over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Although most of the main roads and streets in the area were cleared and passable by yesterday, commuters did report lingering problems.

At the New Carrollton Metro station in Prince George’s County, the roof level of the parking garage was cordoned off, even though the parking spaces appeared to be cleared of snow. The ground-level lots were framed with drifts, but no parking spaces were obstructed and no one complained that parking was any harder to come by than usual. Patches of salt crystals and white stains on the dry pavement indicated where snow-melting solutions had trickled downhill into storm drains earlier in the day.

Trisha Pritchard, 52, of New Carrollton, said maneuvering in the lot wasn’t a problem when she pulled in at 6 a.m. on her way to work in Bethesda.

“I was more worried about walking to the station,” she said, holding up her right foot to show she had worn flat-soled shoes. A narrow walkway had been cleared on one sidewalk, but only about halfway into the lot.

• Matt Cella contributed to this report.

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