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Campus Parking Plan Enters New Phase, All NIH'ers Queried

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The NIH community is passionate about parking. Questions flooded into the Office of Research Services when parking capacity was reduced due to construction projects, and when attendant-assisted parking plans were announced. ORS has been evaluating the situation, and has made some changes. Since Sept. 24, more than 450 spaces have been added to the employee parking pool at the MLP-8 garage by decreasing the number of spaces allocated for visitors. During the initial planning process, about 1,500 cars with no NIH parking permit were counted on campus on a typical workday. Following implementation of pay visitor parking and relocation of construction workers off-campus, this number has dramatically decreased.


On Oct. 1, another challenge began with attendant-assisted parking of employee cars in the lots surrounding Bldg. 31. This concept, which has been in effect at MLP-8 since Aug. 4, caused some initial concern for Bldg. 31 parkers. However, soon after it began, employees reported satisfaction with the system. They said they can park closer than they used to, spaces are available at later times in the morning than previously, and it does not take long for their cars to be free to go. Any waiting time that results from "stacking" is much less than the time involved in searching throughout campus for a possible space. Attendant-assisted parking at both MLP-8 and Bldg. 31 appears to be working its way into the NIH culture as an acceptable means of increasing parking capacities, providing better turnover of spaces throughout the day and enhancing security at the parking facilities, particularly after dark. Side benefits include services such as jump starting dead batteries or unlocking cars accidentally locked by their owners.

Primer on attendant-assisted parking

Employees who arrive earliest park and lock their own cars in the usual striped spaces. Once the facility is full, attendants direct employees to certain locations where employees leave their cars and ignition keys, and receive a claim ticket. Vehicle keys are locked by the parking attendant. As self-park spaces open up, stacked cars are moved into them. When employees who turned their keys over to an attendant depart, they present their claim ticket and attendants give back the keys and remove any blocking vehicles. At least one attendant remains at each lot until 1 a.m. Employees can self-park and lock their cars any time there are available spaces 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Handicapped parking is retained at or close to current locations. Employees and visitors with disabilities who have the appropriate tags or placards can park in the visitor lots for free.

The entire parking system is being monitored and evaluated on a regular basis. In mid-October, new surveys and inventories were taken of peak-hour traffic volumes, parking lot capacities and parking permit categories on each of the lots. These are being evaluated to provide the basis for any modifications of the system. ORS has also developed a questionnaire for all NIH employees. Fill out the survey form online at This is intended to solicit input on the parking system, and to assess the potential of various parking and commuting alternatives, incentives and management strategies to reduce parking demand and improve the quality of life on campus for employees coming to work, visitors doing business, and patients seeking medical treatment.

For more details on current and future parking management issues, visit the Web site at To share your comments and suggestions with ORS, contact Stella Serras-Fiotes, 496-5037 or email

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