Perplexed parking

Boxed out: Most of the corners on the 7300 and 7400 blocks of Frankford Avenue have large white X’d out boxes painted on the street, but there are also signs that indicate the spots are available for parking. The PPA also has parking meters anchored to the sidewalk and positioned all along these would-be no parking zones. WILLIAM KENNY / TIMES PHOTO

Finding a decent parking spot on Frankford Avenue in Mayfair can be challenging enough during a typical weekday without the latest snafu brought to the motoring public by local and state transportation officials.

Specifically, the Philadelphia Parking Authority is now collecting meter fees in no parking zones and at posted bus stops on both sides of Frankford near Cottman Avenue, leaving motorists to ponder that agonizing conundrum: is it legal to park there or not?

Upon further review, it seems that the PPA, SEPTA, PennDOT and the city’s Department of Streets all have contributed to the confusing status quo.

A quick survey of the scene shows that the problem affects the 7300 and 7400 blocks of the avenue and perhaps several blocks beyond. Most of the corners have those large white X’d out boxes painted on the street, the kind that indicate “no parking.” At some of the corners, the no parking boxes are even larger and also have the word “BUS” stenciled onto the asphalt. The SEPTA Route 66 signs hanging from nearby utility poles are another dead giveaway: these are supposed to be bus stops.

Yet, those aren’t the only signs there. Other postings show that much of this same precious curbside real estate is available for parking. There’s even a two-hour limit from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, excluding Sundays.

To enforce the time limit, the PPA has its familiar parking meters anchored to the sidewalk and positioned all along these would-be no parking zones. And judging by their patina, the meters were surely there before the no parking boxes, which may have been added to the streetscape late last summer when PennDOT resurfaced two miles of the avenue between Robbins and Rhawn streets. The state agency maintains the avenue because it doubles as U.S. Route 13.

The Parking Authority did not reply to multiple requests for comment.

Reached by email, a PennDOT spokesman explained that the city’s traffic engineers are responsible for the placement of markings on the street surface. When the state repaved Frankford Avenue, it painted the lines as instructed by the city.

Similarly, a SEPTA spokeswoman directed inquiries to the city, stating the transportation agency has nothing to do with marking up the spaces reserved for bus loading and unloading.

A spokesman for Mayor Kenney said that the Streets Department was unaware of the conflicting signs … until a Northeast Times reporter asked about it.

“The Streets Department appreciates that you drew this matter to our attention. The meters should have been removed once the larger bus zone was installed,” Kenney spokesman Mike Dunn wrote via email. “The city is now asking the PPA to have them removed, and that the removal be expedited. It is our hope that they will be removed by the end of January.”

This isn’t the first time in recent months that a Frankford Avenue resurfacing project has exposed the apparent communication breakdowns among various government agencies.

In August 2015, PennDOT spent about $736,000 in taxpayer money to resurface about four miles of the avenue from Rhawn Street north to the city line. But less than a month after PennDOT left the job site, a Philadelphia Gas Works contractor showed up to dig up the new asphalt.

PGW wanted to replace aging gas mains beneath the street, a project also funded by taxpayers via their monthly utility bills. At the time, representatives for PGW and PennDOT each insisted they had notified the other agency of their plans months in advance. PGW said its contractor would leave the streets in the same condition that they were prior to the gas main work. Utility customers were going to pay for the patchwork, too.

As for the parking situation around Frankford and Cottman, vehicles still park in the metered spaces routinely, despite the no parking boxes painted on the street. And the PPA doesn’t seem to be ticketing those folks … as long as they keep feeding the meters. ••