Best New Use for the Old DIA Toll Plaza

Parking

It may be one of the first airport amenities specifically designed for cell-phone users: In light of the security changes at Denver International Airport that eliminated the 45-minute free parking spots in the passenger pickup area, airport officials have designated the old toll-plaza area (torn down last year when the booths were relocated closer to the airport) as a new free 45-minute parking lot. (Of course, people have been using the area illegally for a while, despite signs that warn motorists against stopping.) Since the seventy-space lot is four miles from the terminal, however, arriving passengers have to use their cell phones -- or a pay phone -- to call friends, relatives or associates who are waiting in the lot with their cell phones. Still, it's a creative, and helpful, use for the old space. Ring up a winner.


Best Denver Invention That Immobilized the World

The Denver Boot

Back in the early '50s, some Denver cops were bemoaning the problems involved with towing cars -- and an inventor friend, Frank Marugg, shouldered the task of coming up with a better way to handle parking scofflaws. Enter the Denver Boot, the now-notorious clamp that paralyzes the front tire of an offending auto until its owner pays up (or gives up on the car altogether). Although Denver was the first city to use Marugg's masterpiece, it's since spread around the world.


In the big picture, a CashKey may seem like relatively small change -- but it can certainly change the lives of those who always have trouble finding a quarter (much less eight quarters) to feed Denver's ever-hungry parking meters. A $15 deposit nets you a programmable key from the Denver Department of Public Works; you buy $5 increments of parking that are loaded into the key. (The limit is a hundred bucks a shot.) And then you're good to go, and stop: Every time you insert the key in a meter, 25 cents is deducted; when you run out, you can just reload. The CashKey is available at five city locations (check out www.denvergov.org for addresses and payment information); it may be coming to a few more convenient spots, too.

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