On the busiest days of the summer at Gettysburg National Military Park, the substantial parking lots at the museum and visitor center can sometimes fill completely – and the 150th anniversary year hasn’t even arrived yet.
Fortunately, thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the York Adams Transportation Authority, the Gettysburg Foundation and other community partners, a solution is on the way. “Smart Parking” will be installed and field tested this summer to reduce traffic congestion, reduce CO2 emissions, and improve the visitor experience.
The computerized system will be activated when parking lots at the museum and visitor center fill up – including overflow lots along Taneytown Road near the national cemetery. Once the smart parking system is activated, new electronic message signs that will be installed along Route 15 will direct visitors to park at The Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg, located at Routes 15 and 97 (Baltimore Pike). Freedom Transit shuttle busses will provide free transportation from the outlet mall to the museum and to additional sites in the town of Gettysburg.
Using Freedom Transit has the added advantage of increasing public awareness of this fairly new system that links the museum with the national cemetery, businesses along Steinwehr Avenue, and the heart of historic downtown Gettysburg. Increased visitor awareness and ridership has tremendous potential for positive economic impacts for all of the attractions and businesses along the entire route of the Lincoln Line, from Steinwehr Avenue, to Baltimore Street and the downtown.
Construction is expected to begin soon, with completion before this coming summer so that the park will have a full year to test it out before the big 150th anniversary year.
Thanks to support from the Gettysburg Foundation, all rides on Freedom Transit are free through 2013.
Enhancements to the system have already been funded by the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program and will include conversion to alternative fuels for the shuttle busses, and real-time intelligent mapping that uses GPS to let visitors know where the next bus is, and how soon it will arrive to pick them up.