Underground Parking Emerges in the 'Burbs

Once thought to be only needed in dense inner cities, underground parking lots are being built now in suburban areas to reduce the use of space in tightening quarters.

In some areas, like the Washington D.C. suburb of North Bethesda, pulling into an underground parking lot to buy groceries is nearly sacrilege for some residents.

"Such complaints highlight a cultural shift taking place as planners transform parts of the sprawling suburbs into urban hubs where the car will no longer be king. The vast parking lots born out of the 20th century suburban boom, particularly those near Metrorail stations, are giving way to more clusters of high-rise office buildings, condominiums and stores where people can walk more easily or park once for multiple activities.

Urban planners say the change is the only way the crowded Washington region can absorb unrelenting population growth without making the area's stifling traffic even worse. Eliminating traditional parking lots, they say, also will alleviate environmental damage that occurs when rainwater runs off warm, dirty asphalt and eventually into streams."

Full Story: Suburbs take an urban turn as developers plan more underground parking

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