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Significant changes to parking arrangements and rules at Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) are scheduled to take effect March 4.

According to NSAB Transportation Program Manager Jeff Miller, the changes are a result of the continuous evaluation of parking availabilities and needs at NSAB, and may not be permanent.

“This is a stopgap plan to support staff parking shortfalls from March to July,” he explained. “Come August, if construction projects remain on schedule, we’ll have more parking available that will get us back to somewhere similar to today.”

The first change is the number of spaces available to Red, Green and Purple Parking Placard holders. The new plan in large part mimics one implemented in September of 2011.

“It calls for equitably redistributing the number of placards assigned to each tenant command,” said Miller. “Some tenants will see an increase in the overall number of parking placards that they can distribute, but many tenants will see a decrease. Based on the percentage of overall staff population.”

With the redistribution, the number of red parking locations will increase, he continued, and the number of purple parking locations will decrease. That increase includes 250 spots to be marked for Red placard holders at the Navy Exchange parking garage, divided between the upper and lower decks.

The shifting in available spaces is not inflexible, however.

This is because the second notable change is in parking utilization and enforcement. It’s called “Rainbow Parking.” Under this new policy, all Red, Green and Purple placard holders may park in any available unreserved spot designated for those colors after 9 a.m. Enforcement will take place Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., but will focus on vehicles displaying expired placards or no placard at all.

Miller emphasized that the new placards are not legal yet, “The only legal placards are the old ones,” he said. “After people have picked up their new placards, they need to put them away in a safe place until the new policy takes effect.”

Each of these changes is scheduled to take effect March 4. Distribution of the new placards is taking place at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (Green Placards), Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Red Placards), and Pass and ID Office (Purple Placards). Miller also suggested eligible employees (active duty and Department of Defense civilian) consider taking advantage of transportation benefits that are available if a member is willing to commute versus waiting for a parking placard.

“The maximum benefit increased this year from $125 to $245 per month,” he said. “If people were considering it before, this is a good time to reconsider. The application is online; the speed of processing is dependent on the level of review, but it’s usually done in two to four weeks. After that, you allocate your funds every month by the 15th, and the money is loaded directly onto a SmartTrip card you’ve designated for that purpose.”

NSAB Transportation Program Coordinator Ryan Emery clarified that the benefit isn’t just limited to SmartTrip cards. “The funds can also be made available to third-party providers such as commuter buses, vanpool providers or train services such as VRE or MARC,” he said.

The second option, offered Miller, is to park for free at the parking area located at 6720 Rockledge Drive in Bethesda and take the Metro bus to NSAB at a cost of $3.20 roundtrip.

More information about the parking policy changes and redistribution will be available later this month. For information about new or existing parking policies, contact Jeff Miller at jeffrey.miller@med.navy.mil.