Answer Man: Overcharged for airport parking? Variable speed limits? – Citizen Times

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Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart-aleck answers and the real deal:
Question: I know you receive countless Asheville Regional Airport complaints, and I know you’re not in the reimbursement biz, but here’s another AVL situation. Friday, Sept. 2, I arrived early at the airport for my 1 p.m. flight to Atlanta, avoiding I-26 to get there, intending to park in the garage. The sign at the garage entrance said there were 29 spots available, and I proceeded in. After searching every floor, there was not a spot to be had. I left to try long-term parking. Cars were parked in there as if it were a tailgate before a Clemson game. I had the privilege of paying $2 to exit the parking area and looked unsuccessfully for the shuttle parking, which I don’t know if it truly exists. At this point, now getting perilously close to my departure time, I re-entered the airport, parked in the daily parking, as nothing else seemed worthwhile pursuing. Today, Sunday, after only three days of being away, I arrived back in Asheville at noon and scanned my ticket at the exit, where I had to pay $76. The garage would have been $39. Any hope for getting back the extra $39 (includes the first $2)? What happens in these situations?
My answer: Actually, I could reimburse you, but I’ll need you to send me the $39 first, plus handling fees of $42. I’m sure my bosses will have no problem with this…
Real answer: Airport spokesperson Tina Kinsey first noted, “I’m not sure the complaints are countless…I’ve been counting!”
Previously:Answer Man: Trip to Charlotte airport a ‘nightmare’? No softball at UNCA?
Answer Man:Asheville Regional parking garage scofflaws? More parking coming?
“In all seriousness, we do know that our parking lots become very full during peak travel times,” Kinsey continued, via email. “This is why we consistently recommend that travelers arrive two hours prior to departure to allow time for parking, checking in, security screening and other steps they may need to take prior to boarding their flights. Air travel in the U.S. is very busy again, and AVL is no exception.”
Kinsey also noted the shuttle lot does indeed exist and is “directly across the street from the airport, and there are multiple large signs indicating the lot’s location.
“Also, when our main lots fill, we also display signs at parking lot entrances instructing passengers to proceed to the toll plaza for parking instructions,” Kinsey added.
Additionally, the airport has signage at each entrance that labels the parking lot you are entering and the parking fees associated with that lot.
“We also include the information and a parking map on our website for customers who wish to understand the options before arriving at the airport,” Kinsey continued. “While it is very understandable that customers may sometimes look past the signage because they are in a hurry or for other reasons, this is not within our control.”
Read this:Answer Man: ‘Summer Bummer’ in Asheville weather? AVL app not working?
The airport “works diligently” to give customers the information they need, she said.
Kinsey had bad news in the refund department, though.
“Regarding the request for a refund — we must administer our parking fees equitably, and we do not refund parking fees unless we have made a mistake with the charge,” Kinsey said. “If a customer believes they have been charged erroneously, they can reach out to our parking operator at flyavl.com”
Kinsey also noted that she tallies the “number of compliments we receive from our customers, which we receive often.
“We’re grateful for all feedback, especially when it is constructive, as it helps us stay connected and make improvements where we can,” Kinsey said.
Question: In a recent column you mentioned plain old traffic congestion, which reminded me of a question I used to raise with NCDOT officials, who never knew what I was talking about. So, here goes: The normal speed limit in North Carolina is announced by a posted, fixed sign and applies 24/7 regardless of traffic conditions. Occasionally, North Carolina posts a variable speed limit sign adjusting for actual conditions, but they seem rare. Checking the Federal Highway Administration website, etc., variable speed limits are far more widely used in many states. In European traffic I have seen them often in places where population density precludes our normal traffic solution of adding lanes at the expense of trees and housing. It just makes sense that when traffic and weather permit you can often raise the speed limit to get vehicles on their way and out of the way to minimize congestion. Why is North Carolina behind other jurisdictions in doing so? Are more of these variable signs being considered for places here in Western North Carolina?
My answer: Considering that speed limits signs here in the mountains seem to be merely suggestions, they’re kind of variable already. 
Real answer: NCDOT spokesperson David Uchiyama noted speed limits generally are set to accommodate free flow speed, based on the road’s geometric conditions.
“The presence of congestion generally means that a roadway has exceeded its capacity to accommodate traffic flow,” Uchiyama said via email. “A higher speed limit is not going to allow cars to go anywhere any faster under congested conditions.”
We do indeed have some places where the variable speed limit signs are in place.
“In North Carolina, variable speed limits are generally used in some work zones due to varying constraints — active work versus work stoppage, moving operations, etc. — to allow greater opportunity for increased driver reaction, and to reduce the severity of any potential crashes, when increased constraints are present,” Uchiyama said.
He also noted that, reviews from other states show “it takes a lot of corridor infrastructure and smart technologies to make it successful.
More from Answer Man:Big clearing in Candler? No trucks in left lane on I-26 not enforced?
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“For example, a system that reduces speed during wet weather events requires sensors in the road to assess depth of water before it reduces the speed, so a very dynamic driven smart system,” Uchiyama said. “We may choose to implement variable speed limits of a similar sort on I-40 in Wake County as part of the managed freeway project, but that would be in a later phase.”
Wake County is home to Raleigh, by the way.
This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 232-5847 or jboyle@citizen-times.com

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