It now costs more to park in Aspen |

It now costs more to park in Aspen

ASPEN ” Parking in downtown Aspen just got more expensive.

Increases in parking fees and fines took effect Saturday. The additional revenue is expected to generate $700,000 more a year for the transportation and parking fund. Parking fees and fines bring in $1.5 million annually; with the increases, that revenue stream will grow to $2.2 million.

The additional revenue will balance the budget on the Rio Grande parking garage and parking department operations, officials said.

City transportation officials spent the past week installing new pay stations throughout downtown. They replace the original machines, which were put into place when paid parking first began in 1995.

“We’ve gotten almost 15 years out of them,” said Tim Ware, director of parking. “They usually have a 10-year life span, but we have taken care of them.”

At a total cost of $954,320, all 59 pay-and-display parking meters will be replaced by the spring. Twenty-six meters were replaced this past week and the remaining 33 will be replaced this spring.

The old meters were attached to light poles to reduce clutter on the sidewalks and to take advantage of the AC power. The new pay stations are embedded into the concrete sidewalks and operate on solar power.

In one instance this week, a maple tree was removed to make way for a pay station on Main Street, located in front of The Aspen Times.

Tim Ware, director of parking, said the tree’s removal was approved by the city’s parks department.

“It’s our property, not yours,” he said.

The new meters will operate basically the same as the originals. The biggest difference users will notice is that if a credit card is used, the machine will take the card and then spit it back out, instead of the operator manually sliding it and removing it.

Software in the pay stations is programmed so no money will be accepted on Sundays and holidays, days when parking is free.

Conversions were made to the old pay stations on Friday to reflect the fee increases and the nonpayments on holidays, Ware said. The original meters will remain most likely until Monday when the electric department can dismantle them.

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