VAIL — Vail’s parking structures will be getting some improvements and new machinery this coming fall. The project will help the town better keep track of traffic and help attendants monitor the structures. The upgrades will also include a few bells and whistles that drivers might notice, including automatic machines that allow you to add value to a parking card or pay for your parking. Previously, drivers could only add value to a card at the municipal building, and you had to pay for your parking on the way out of the structure.
Most notably, the new machinery will also keep track of who is parking in the structure and when through a license plate recognition system — every license plate that enters the parking lot will be photographed and cataloged. That way, attendants can see what time someone pulled in if the driver lost their parking ticket. They will also be able to tell when someone has been “looping,” or leaving and re-entering the structure before their free parking time has run out.
“If people are leaving during the free period and coming back within a half hour, the system will catch that and you’ll be charged for the full time you were parking,” said Vail Transportation Manager Mike Rose. “With this system, looping should come to a grinding halt.”
The license plate recognition also addresses the problem of people who park multiple days in the structure, then claim to have lost their parking tickets and pay only the one-day fee of $25. Previously, workers had to manually make a list of all the cars still in the structure late at night, and parking attendants had to consult the list to catch anyone skirting the system. With the license plate program, those vehicles will automatically be flagged when they leave the structure.
Also, for the first time, drivers will be able to pay for Ford Park parking with an automated credit card system. Previously, the lot, which becomes paid parking during special events throughout the summer and through the winter, only accepted cash.
The Vail Town Council approved the parking structure improvements in mid-May for an estimated cost of $600,000 from the company ProtectionTech. The Austrian company Skidata manufactures the equipment.
Rose said the new system will be installed by Nov. 1. Currently, summer parking at the structures is free until the ski season starts.
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.