YVRA parking to go high-tech

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Parking at Yampa Valley Regional Airport is about to change.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved an electronic parking system agreement between Wells Fargo Bank and the county.

Commissioners signed the agreement, which will bring gated, electronic parking to the lots at the airport. The $240,000 project is scheduled for completion in mid-November, before the ski season kicks in, finance and airport officials say.

When motorists drive up to the lot, they will take a ticket from a "ticket spitter" before an arm lifts and they can enter, said Tom Heilner, accounting manager for the county. Travelers then will have to keep the tickets. When returning from their trips, they can pay the tickets inside with cash or credit card, or pay outside with a credit card at the gate.

The project is part of a $13.6 million improvement project at the airport, Heilner said. Routt County began work this summer on the project, which includes paving and expanding the parking lot. Asphalt work is scheduled to begin early next week.

Because of construction, parking at the airport has been free. Before construction started, parking fees were paid through an honors-based system. Customers would park their cars, then mark how long they planned to park and pay by putting cash or check in an envelope that was placed in a box erected in the lot.

The new system should be a lot more convenient, Interim Airport Manager Ann Copeland has said.

"People will not have to get out of the car, look for a pencil and find the exact change," Copeland said.

The new system also makes getting refunds easier. Customers have had to wait on the county to process their refunds if their trips were cut short or canceled after they already paid.

Officials also expect that the new system will bring in more revenue because the old system was honors-based.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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