Smartphone app to alert drivers about Innovation District parking spaces is about to go live

Traffic on Northern Avenue. Globe file photo: Jessica Rinaldi.
Traffic on Northern Avenue. Globe file photo: Jessica Rinaldi.

A City of Boston program designed to ease traffic congestion in the Innovation District is about to go into effect, with smartphone apps that tell drivers about the availability of parking spaces.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino outlined the program in an October press conference to address the neighborhood’s growing traffic problems. One frequent side effect of the Innovation District’s popularity has been rush hour gridlock.

With the program about to go live, Menino issued a statement, saying, “The installation of this new equipment will now ensure a quicker and more pleasant trip to this neighborhood for those commuters and visitors who choose to drive.”

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Drivers may take advantage of some of the program’s features, starting Wednesday, city officials said.

As part of the plan, 330 “Smart Parking Sensors” have been installed along stretches of Seaport Boulevard, Congress Street, Summer Street, and Boston Wharf Road. The sensors, purchased by the city from Streetline Inc. of California, are designed to work with a smartphone app. The app is designed to alert users to the locations of available parking spaces.

One way to get access to this parking information is to download a free mobile app that can be found in the iTunes Store and the Android Market by searching for “Parker,” the city said.

Another component of the plan is the deployment of four so-called “Time to Destination Signs” in various Innovation District locations, including Sleeper Street (just before Seaport Boulevard driving from Northern Avenue), East Service Road, (just before Seaport Boulevard driving from Congress Street), and Seaport Boulevard, (inbound at Congress Street), the city said.

“The sensors will reduce traffic congestion by decreasing the number of drivers circling around looking for an open parking space, and the Time to Destination Signs will help by moving vehicles out of the Innovation District and onto the highway system as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Boston Transportation Department commissioner Thomas J. Tinlin said in a statement.