Angled Parking

The unusual curbside parking situation at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport — many people dropping off or picking up passengers back in to the diagonal spots — is to be eliminated amid a nationwide crackdown by the Transportation Security Administration on unattended vehicles in front of terminals.

The funky curbside parking spots at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport will be eliminated soon, part of a terrorism-related tightening of rules by federal authorities for vehicles in front of terminals, airport director John Kinney said Thursday.

Many people dropping off or picking up passengers at Sardy Field back in to the diagonal spots and occasionally wander into the terminal, leaving their vehicle unoccupied. The Transportation Security Administration has ordered that to cease, Kinney said.

The TSA wants uniform security measures across all airports, edicts that contain multiple aspects. On the terminal parking issue, Kinney said he has been in talks with the feds for “awhile” about compliance, and said local officials, “put it off as long as we possibly could.”

“The TSA informed us that, in no uncertain terms, the time has come,” he said in an interview. “We have to get in sync with other airports.”

The federal agency is concerned about car bombs, which Kinney agreed remain a threat to the country.

On Thursday, airport staff began handing out “parking alert” cards explaining the new policy to guests parking at curbside, an airport press release says. The cards list options for unattended vehicles parking in areas other than curbside at the terminal.

This includes the first hour of parking being free in either the short- or long-term lots. Kinney noted that the short-term lot is just 100 feet away from the terminal’s curb.

The diagonal spots will be eliminated in favor of flow lanes, likely this spring, which Kinney said will make Sardy Field similar to most other commercial airports: Vehicles can stop for momentary loading and unloading, and after a few minutes “you are hustled along,” he said.

The cards will alert the public about the change, though Kinney declined to say how long of a grace period people will be given. The TSA directive calls for unoccupied vehicles to be towed.

Kinney said this aspect of the security regulations will be the most visible for the public, adding the change has to be made because locals officials had exhausted compliance discussions with the feds, at least on this issue.

But he said he wasn’t surprised: The aviation veteran said he couldn’t think of a commercial airport in the country that still allows unattended vehicles to be parked curbside at a terminal.

Chad is a Contributing Editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at chad@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @chad_the_scribe.

Contibuting Editor