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Tickets, towing plan for solving parking problems

NATCHEZ — With two riverboats cruising back into town this month, the City of Natchez has a plan it hopes will eliminate downtown parking problems that troubled shuttle buses last year.

The riverboats utilize large buses after docking to transport passengers from one attraction to the next. Areas marked for bus parking — like those in front of the Eola Hotel and other businesses and attractions — are reserved for exactly such stops, but often smaller vehicles fill the spots.

“It becomes a hardship on the people providing transportation,” City of Natchez Director of Tourism Connie Taunton said. “It slows down the whole tour process, and sometimes they have to circle the buses to try to find a place to drop people off. And it doesn’t make us look very hospitable to the passengers on the bus.”

Taunton said she and others in the tourism industry have worked with the Natchez Police Department to patrol the stops on cruise days and the city’s traffic department to put up more signage at the designated areas.

Chief Danny White said he receives a list of the docking days for the boats from Taunton and sends patrolman to ensure residents are not parking at the designated trolley stops.

“There will be tickets,” he said.

And tickets won’t be the only expense drivers who park in the trolley stops will have to deal with.

“We’re going to try this, and if it doesn’t work, cars will be towed at the owner’s expense,” Taunton said. “People need to take it seriously.”

Taunton said the buses have a problem dropping passengers off at Stanton Hall and other places when people park at the stops or on the corner causing the buses to not be able to turn on a street.

“We’re happy to have these visitors, even if they’re just day visitors, because it helps out the local economy,” Taunton said. “We want everyone to observe the no parking signs, even if it’s not a day the boat is in town.”

The Queen of the Mississippi will return to Natchez on Feb. 25 and make 26 total stops in Natchez this year. The American Queen will return Feb. 26 and make 16 stops.

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