Parking woes at Amtrak Station cause concern for travelers

Posted at 8:51 PM, Mar 14, 2013

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)—The Amtrak station off Staples Mills Road has the type of problem that’s good to have; high passenger volume.

But it’s not without inconvenience to travelers. They may have to make their own parking spot like some drivers do, if they arrive at the station after 8 a.m., during holidays and at spring break.

We first reported on the issue back in November, over the holidays, but CBS 6 has learned that the problem has only gotten worse in recent months.

The rising numbers of riders impacts passengers and even nearby businesses, and has called into question some safety concerns.  So some big safety changes are soon  coming to the station-- the highest used south of Washington D.C.’s Union station—in the next 60 days.

A stop light will be installed so that passengers who can’t get a space in the Amtrak parking lot will be safer when crossing Staples Mill Road. Many passengers told CBS 6 that they don't think it’s safe to cross the road, especially with luggage and children in tow.

There are only 288 parking spaces, and when the lot is full, the overflow crosses over Staples Mill.

People are double-parked in places and occupying no parking zones.  A lot of commuters say they don’t ever drive  into the lot.

Some desperate travelers, anxious to make the train on time, park in the spaces that belong to nearby businesses.

"We have them come in at the last minute and say, you know, my train leaves in 15 minutes and they don't have any parking, can I park here,” Tom Jones, of Heritage Antiques & Collectibles, said.

Jones always says no, since his business only has 15 parking spaces. Anthony & George's Steakhouse runs out of their own parking spots at peak times, like on the weekends.

Amtrak said that the key is to arrive early, but that might not be the only solution with 16 trains leaving out every day.

As for parking issues, the Virginia Department of Rails and Public Transportation, along with Henrico County and Amtrak, are all working together to find some solutions.

What do you think should be done? Sound off in the comments.