‘Parking nightmare’ alleviated at Amtrak?

Posted at 11:24 PM, May 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-19 00:21:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- More than 345,000 passengers passed through the Amtrak station on Staples Mill Road last year, making it one of the busiest stations in Virginia. Almost all of them had to deal with what some call a "parking nightmare."

Even on a Saturday afternoon, the lot at the station was completely full, and many vehicles that could not find a spot, parked on the curbs or wherever they could find.

According to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Saturday, parking relief could soon be on the way. The Department of Railroad and Transportation is looking into purchasing property around the station to expand parking space, the report indicated; and the number of parking spaces could be doubled.

"I think it's a win-win situation for everybody. It would increase our business for sure," said Marianna Martatos, who owns Anthony and George's Steakhouse right next door to the Amtrak station.

Martatos said she has not been approached by anyone about buying her property, but on a daily basis, she sees the need for expanded parking next door.

Passengers running late for their train who cannot find a parking spot in the Amtrak lot consistently come into her business to ask if they can park in her lot. Martatos said she typically does not tow cars, but it creates a major headache for her customers.

Visitors from up and down the east coast use the Staples Mill station whenever they come to Richmond. Nursien Jackson lives in New York City, and when she visits Richmond 8-10 times a year, she takes a train into Staples Mills Road.

"When people come to pick me up, they just make a circle through [the parking lot]," said Jackson. "It's impossible for them to park, come in, and find me."

On Amtrak's website, they ask any customers arriving at the Staples Mill Station after 8 a.m. to work in extra time into their trip to find parking. A "park and ride" lot is also available about five blocks from the station, at the intersection of Cloverdale Avenue and Crockett Street.

Passengers like Jackson are eagerly awaiting an expansion of the parking facilities at the Amtrak station. Jackson hopes any new plans account for enough spaces to make an impact.

"They really need to do some head counting to figure out how many spaces to expand," said Jackson.

Attempts to reach the Department of Railroad and Transportation about further details were unsuccessfully Saturday. If CBS 6 receives more information, we will add it to our online article.