Denver International Airport trains take an early morning detour (& that's no Mountain Mirage)

Denver International Airport rolls up the moving sidewalks early. As anyone regularly taking red-eye flights knows, most shops and bars on the concourse close before 10 p.m., and in the terminal, one fast-foot outlet and one sundries store stay open all night.

And now, even the train is shutting down -- at least in the early hours of Sunday and Monday, between Concourse A and the terminal.

Starting this past weekend, and continuing for the next fourteen months, every Sunday and Monday between 1 and 4:30 a.m., passengers taking the train in from concourses B and C will have to get off at Concourse A and take the walkway into the terminal. This move will allow for an expansion of the train system; installing a new switch will ultimately allow DIA to run eight four-car trains, rather than the six often-jammed four-car trains it offers now.

The expansion of the train system has already claimed one fatality: "Mountain Mirage," the water amenity that was supposed to create a liquid silhouette of the mountains to delight passengers disembarking from the train, but instead started leaking into the mechanics for that train. So when DIA opened, "Mountain Mirage" was indeed a mirage -- for three years, there was a cactus garden in that space. Even after repairs were made and the sculpture turned on, it would have needed a good dose of Viagra to execute any peak performance. And then it started leaking on.

"Mountain Mirage" was turned off for good last year; its prime location in the terminal is now shrouded in a tent that makes it look like a staging ground for very intensive pat-downs. A sign on the side, however, indicates that DIA is looking for a replacement piece; in fact, the airport is currently working on a master plan for its entire Public Art Program and is still soliciting comments from the traveling public on its 27 permanent, site-specific art pieces.

At least the walkway in from Concourse A now has an entertaining temporary exhibit, Colorado Stories. But we'll bet that those early morning travelers now doing the long walk in from Concourse A, to the accompaniment of the haunting native American soundtrack that's part of DIA's permanent art collection, will have plenty of comments to share.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Top 7 ways to improve Colorado tourism: Are you listening, Visit Denver?"

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