For years, Portland has enforced a citywide parking ban to allow for snow plowing overnight, but now it has decided to allow some limited on-street parking on the peninsula during snowstorms.

City officials announced Monday that the test project will take effect Wednesday, New Year’s Day, and include three designated areas on the Western Promenade, the Eastern Promenade and Marginal Way.

Not having to comply with the city’s on-street parking ban will allow residents to park their cars on only one side of the street – the water side – during snowstorms.

If a person chooses to leave a car on a designated street it will not be towed, but the owner will have to contend with removing any piles of snow that might be pushed against the vehicle by a city plow truck.

“This will be a first for the city, but there will be limits,” said Mike Bobinsky, Portland’s director of public services. “We will only allow parking in very defined parts of the city with a heavy concentration of residents.”

Bobinsky said the city decided to conduct a trial program this winter after being contacted by a number of residents.

Many of those residents had to move their cars to a designated winter parking ban location such as Deering Oaks, the Fitzpatrick Stadium parking lot or public school lots during a snowstorm. Several parking garages, including city-operated garages, also remain open during storms.

But for many residents, Bobinsky said, it is inconvenient to move a vehicle to one of the designated locations and then have to find a way back home.

Bobinsky estimates the three designated streets will be able to accommodate up to 100 cars overnight during snowstorms. Cars must be removed on or before 8 a.m. the next day.

The streets are:

The Western Promenade, from Bowdoin to West streets.

The Eastern Promenade, from Turner Street to the East End Community School property.

Marginal Way to Plowman Street, just before the entrance to the East End Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Bobinsky said compliance with the citywide parking bans has improved dramatically over last decade. In 2002, it was not unusual for the city to tow 300 cars left on streets during a snowstorm night, while currently fewer than 100 have to be towed.

Bobinsky said the city will monitor the new program to determine if it should become permanent. One of the keys will be to make sure that allowing cars to remain on those streets does not impair plowing operations.

Comments and feedback should be directed to Eric Labelle, deputy director of the Department of Public Services. He can be reached at 874-8801 or at elabelle@portlandmaine.gov.

Residents and visitors can sign up online at www.portlandmaine.gov to receive email notices when a citywide parking ban has been implemented. Parking ban updates are also available on Facebook (Portland Cityline) or by becoming a follower of Portland Cityline on Twitter. The parking ban hotline is 879-0300.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com