BIW workers leave the shipyard during shift change on April 13, 2021. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Bath city councilors gave final approval to a parking plan designed to discourage BIW shipbuilders from parking on South End residential roads and ease traffic in the neighborhood during shift change.

According to the program, the time limit on existing two-hour on-street parking will be cut to one hour on the residential streets between Washington and High streets from Route 1/Leeman Highway to Lemont Street, according to Police Chief Andrew Booth. All residents on those roads will be given a free parking permit that allows them to park on the side of the road for an unlimited amount of time.

Bath councilors unanimously approved the program on Wednesday, and police plan to implement and enforce the new program next month.

“I hope this helps alleviate some residents’ concerns about safety in the South End,” Booth said. “We try to be out there and monitoring, but you can’t control thousands of people leaving one place all at once as fast as they can. It can get dangerous.”

Parking ticket fines in the South End neighborhood will also increase, and cars are subject to getting towed after their second offense.

Bath Parking Enforcement Officer June Berry estimated she writes about 30 parking tickets each day for cars parked in the South End, some of which are repeat offenders.

Police held informational meetings about the program earlier this year, which garnered widespread approval for the idea from residents.

Booth said he hopes the program encourages BIW’s over 7,000 workers to use available permitted lots near the shipyard or the satellite lots in neighboring towns the company provides and runs shuttles to because “It’s inconvenient for a BIW worker to leave work every hour on the hour to move their car.”

Police also blocked off on-street parking on the BIW-side of Washington Street between the shipyard’s two gates as permitted parking spots for carpool and shuttle vehicles. Permits for spaces, which two or more employees must agree to purchase together, will cost $60 per month.

The program was developed by Booth’s predecessor, former chief Michael Field, who told The Times Record a parking program was one of several suggested solutions to reduce traffic and increase safety from a 2019 traffic study the city conducted alongside the Maine Department of Transportation and BIW.

The $75,000 study was spawned by the death of a BIW worker who was struck by a car on Washington Street while walking to work in 2016. The tragedy highlighted the dire need for increased safety in the South End.

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