Dr. Shoup argues that the best use of parking meter revenue is to spend it locally on sidewalks and the pedestrian environment to improve physical appearance and walking conditions. With that in mind, I took a short tour to document potential infrastructure repairs near the Navy Yard that should be paid for using the money from parking meters. The whole tour is available as a set on flickr.
Here’s an example of new street trees in boxes or grates, courtesy Mr T in DC on flickr. This is South Capitol Street at Nationals Stadium, newly completed a couple months before the photo was taken in June 2008:
From my tour, here’s some examples of street trees and boxes in need of repair or replacement. Click for full image:
Next, let’s look at some sidewalk issues. First, here’s what modern sidewalk and curbs are supposed to look like:
Wide curb cut ramps with texture for wheelchair grip, clearly marked crosswalks, no cracks, no weeds, no grass. Now let’s look at some conditions “on the ground”. First, the worst of it:
Poor Utility Construction
Next, we’ll take a look at some places where a utility connection has been repaired, and rather than restoring the sidewalk to its original brick construction, the contractor just slapped down some asphalt.
There are more photos on the full tour, but this last photo was my favorite. It looks like whomever was building this sidewalk either ran out of time or bricks and just decided to throw the last few brick pieces in with some asphalt and go get margaritas:
I’m going to work with DDOT to find out how much approximate repair costs are for the kinds of items I found. I suspect that it’s going to be on the same order of magnitude as the parking revenue generated, based on the success of other cities in using parking meter revenue to fix broken sidewalks. Unfortunately for the sidewalks, until the $10,000 multispace meter is paid for, only 20% of the revenue can go to non-automobile transportation improvements in the pilot zone (PDF). After the meters are paid for, it’s 75%. 20% of the meter revenue always goes to the general fund.