SALEM — More than a year ago, a sign went up next to a vacant lot on Franklin Street: “All Day Parking $4.” Although the small lot is right around the corner from the MBTA commuter rail station, virtually nobody has parked there.
Business is expected to pick up, however, after the T shuts down the Salem station parking lot Saturday to begin construction of a new, $37 million station and parking garage.
During the 14-month construction period, the 460-space lot will be closed to cars, leaving commuters who drive to the station scrambling for parking or alternative ways to Boston.
“There’s been a whole lot of talk about it,” said Michael Coleman, a Salem resident who takes the train to work. “People are already starting to scope out other places to park.”
The parking options are limited.
The city had hoped to have a 120-space lot available at the former Universal Steel site across from the station on Bridge Street, but an environmental cleanup has taken longer than expected. The lot is not expected to be ready until mid-August or later.
A small lot at the former Alpha Auto Sales, which is next to Universal Steel on Bridge Street, should be ready by Monday, but that holds only 30 cars. The city has created another lot in Leslie’s Retreat Park that can be accessed from Commercial Street. Parking is free at these temporary city lots.
Paid parking is available at other city lots and parking garages, some of which offer long-term passes. The city is not encouraging commuter parking in the Museum Place or South Harbor garages, however, because they are heavily used by downtown workers and tourists.
The MBTA had been advising commuters to use other commuter rail lots in North Beverly, Montserrat and Swampscott, but officials now say few spaces are available.