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Cville Drivers Weigh in: Timed Street Parking or Garage? - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Charlottesville Drivers Weigh in: Timed Street Parking or Garage?

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If you have ever tried to park along the streets of downtown Charlottesville, you're probably familiar with the two-hour shuffle: moving your car throughout the day to hang on to a "free" parking space.

But new research suggests that by the time you find that empty spot, it's not so free after all. That research suggests people are guzzling a good amount of gas circling for parking spaces.

In busy downtown Charlottesville, an empty parking space is a hot commodity. So much so, that people are willing to drive and drive and drive to get one. 

"Maybe ten minutes," said Cecilia McGurk. 

"It's a ten-minute shuffle. It could be about 10 or 15 minutes possibly," said Rick Zeller. 

Ten minutes in your car doesn't sound like much, but it adds up. A study published in the Washington Post says people in congested urban areas use 40 percent of their gas looking for parking.

So why do it? Some people say it beats feeding a meter or paying a fee in the garage. 

"I mean the garage is very nice, but I could get that dessert or the extra coffee with what I spend on the garage so, it's just that penny-pinching that keeps me circling," McGurk said. 

"I'm the exact opposite," said Perrie Johnson. "I go straight for the garage rather than spend the money and hassle of the drive around." 

The idea of saving by shuffling may not always apply. Charlottesville prides itself on being an energy-efficient city and says the most fuel- and cost-efficient way to park is taking advantage of the Water Street Parking Garage.  

"Both our parking garages, the Water Street and the Market Street garage, are part of a validation system downtown, and there's over 140 merchants and businesses and services that will validate your parking for some amount of free parking, usually two hours," said Bob Stroh, general manager of Charlottesville Parking Center. 

He says it can almost always guarantee parking at the Water Street garage because in 20 years it has only filled to capacity twice.

Still for some, the thrill of the chase may very well be priceless. 

"But then like everyone, I have a few secret spots I look for," McGurk said. 

For the details on validation policies, click here.

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