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DENVER-A new city parking garage, paid for by taxpayers, will not be open to the public. Citing an expert security study that evaluated potential risks at all city office buildings, the city decided tofollow federal guidelines relating to public access to underground parking garages.

The federal government prohibits public parking in any underground-parking garage located at a federal facility.

Denver’s new office building, scheduled to open in October, is the only city office building with an underground-parking garage.

On Feb. 26, 1993, a rented Ryder truck loaded with explosives detonated in an underground garage at the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring 1,000. The explosion caused millions of dollars of property damage that took months to repair. Hundreds of individuals and companies alleged in lawsuits that the Port Authority was negligent for failing to implement proper security measures despite recommendations, for example, to close underground parking garages to the public.

To make up for the 115 parking spots in the garage that were originally slated for the public, the city has leased one lot adjacent to the new office building that holds 65 cars and is working to lease additional space to make up for additional space. The city will allow half-hour of free parking at these lots for citizens that have short-term business at the new building. These lots will also be available to the public in the evenings and on weekends.

Denver will use the underground lot primarily for employee parking and for storage of city-owned vehicles. City employees who do park there will be will be required to go through necessary security clearance and will be badged. Security officers will monitor the garage and check all badged employees for appropriate security clearances before being allowed into the garage.

Employees who are allowed to park in the garage will also be required to pay for their parking spaces.

“This was obviously not an easy decision to make but we are now living in a world where the threat of terrorism is greater than ever before,” says Mayor Wellington E. Webb. “The balance that we believe we have reached is to eliminate the security risk that is presented by underground parking, while still being able to offer convenient public parking in lots adjacent to the building.

“We are living in a world where security now takes an unfortunate precedent over convenience–whether it be in access in airports, sports stadiums, the Denver Mint or in other local, state or government buildings,” he adds. “The American public is seeing more metal detectors, more security personnel, limited access and overall are recognizing that there is more diligence now then ever before in trying to eliminate the risk and threats of terrorism.”

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