Photo (not DC USA) by skycaptaintwo.

The DC USA garage, which is never even half full, may finally see some more use, but at the cost of increasing congestion in Columbia Heights: ODMPED has reached an agreement to rent out 350 spaces for daily and monthly use in addition to the current hourly parking.

The space will cost $6/day for parkers who arrive before 9 am and leave by 7 pm. Monthly spaces will cost $145/month. In addition, the hourly rates will increase, now costing $1.50 for each of the first two hours, then $1/hour for the next two, and jumping to $12 total for people who stay 4-12 hours.

As DCist notes, that would definitely bias the usage in favor of commuters and add to rush hour traffic. They presumably chose the “early bird” pricing structure to discourage shoppers from staying long periods of time, but will have the effect of forcing people to drive in during the morning rush and leave during the evening rush. Want to stay late until it’s less crowded? Too bad.

The DC government pays for operating losses in the garage, but has to get agreement from Target and the mall developer to make any chances. Target had reportedly been resisting any other use of the space, especially a non-car use like storage or a bowling alley.

Operating the garage has been costing the DC government $2.1 million. While it’s great DC was able to bring in these successful stores, it might not have been so smart to agree to pay costs for a garage while giving stores a complete veto over any changes to reduce massive losses.

A deal will be good for the DC budget by stemming the hemorrhaging of money from this overbuilt parking. Still, it seems that there has to be a way to structure a parking program that encourages off-peak driving more than peak driving.

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Tagged: dc, dc usa, parking

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle.