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A pilot program intended to reduce traffic congestion around downtown St. Joseph will be attempted again this weekend at Silver Beach County Park.

We told you the park this past weekend charged drivers for parking as they left the attraction, instead of charging drivers as they entered the parking lot. The idea was to reduce backups at the park’s entrance and on nearby streets.

Berrien County Parks Director Jill Adams tells us she and staff have reviewed the results of the weekend pilot, and the trial showcased some benefits, and some challenges, of this type of operational change.

Adams says she asks visitors to Silver Beach to please be kind and patient with the county park rangers and managers. She says it’s not their fault the trial is taking place, and anyone with complaints should contact her instead.

The “pay as you leave” method at Silver Beach this past weekend did appear to reduce congestion near the park, but it also meant some backups for some visitors when they tried leaving the park.

Adams also notes the cost of parking at Silver Beach has not changed, saying the fee to park is $8 per vehicle for Berrien County residents, $15 per vehicle for out-of-county residents, and $40 for an annual park permit, regardless of residency. The fees don’t change during the trials.