DC Transportation Officials Receive Hundreds of Parking Sign Complaints

Washington, D.C., transportation officials acknowledge hundreds of conflicting or confusing street signs have further complicated the search for parking spaces for residents, visitors and workers.

Public records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the News4 I-Team show D.C. officials reviewed at least 800 conflicting parking signs since 2016 and made repairs or modifications to most of them.

The confusion is often caused when multiple parking signs are erected with directions for the same single parking space. The signs indicate parking is both permitted and prohibited during periods of the day, according to driver complaints to D.C. and to the I-Team.

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The D.C. Department of Transportation reported consulting with public works officials about repairs or adjustments to 816 conflicting or confusing sign locations in 2017, according to filings submitted to the D.C. Council. The agency’s report said it takes an average of 118 days to complete a request for a sign change or repair.

The problem is created, in part, by the District’s frequent changing of street signs amid fast redevelopment, said Evian Patterson, associate director for the D.C. Department of Transportation’s Parking and Ground Transportation Division.

“We have a changing environment as the city grows,” Patterson said. “We have different uses and demands for the curbside. We have to respond to those demands.”

When drivers see multiple signs for the same parking space, drivers should read parking signs from top to bottom, Patterson said.

“Even though it seems rather confusing, and you might need a law degree for it, what we’re doing is trying to give you clear direction on when you can utilize our curbside,” Patterson said.

Several drivers told the I-Team the District’s confusing parking signs have been costly to visitors and residents of D.C. Dwight Freeman said he received a ticket for mistakenly parking in a food truck zone space near Metro Center.

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“The signs were very confusing,” he said. “When I drove up, I looked at the bottom sign. Usually you look at the bottom sign and pay no attention to the ones above it.”

The higher-placed parking signs offered conflicting instructions for parking during weekday hours, Freeman said.

Bill Stiebel, who visited the District from Virginia with his wife, said he received a ticket for parking in a space with confusing parking signage.

“(The top sign) indicated that this is a legal spot,” Stiebel said. “But if you look under it, the arrow was pointing both ways.”

District transportation officials said they accept complaints or recommendations about parking signs through the District’s 311 system. DDOT crews will print and hang replacement signs, when conflicts or confusion are confirmed.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” Patterson said.

To file a complaint about a sign, visit the DDOT's website.

Reported by Scott MacFarlane, produced by Rick Yarborough, and shot and edited by Steve Jones.

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