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Other rental companies may let you reserve a car on the Internet. And special customers, such as members of frequent travelers clubs, may be able to bypass the rental counter. But in what it claims is an industry first, Alamo Rent A Car is letting any renter complete the "paperwork" online and bypass lines at the regular counter.

Under the QuikRent program announced last week, customers sign on to, where they choose a site and car, complete a rental form (including insurance and fueling options) and input their credit card number. On arrival at the rental site, they go to a special kiosk, swipe their credit card to get a rental receipt (with car location) and drive off in the chosen car. A guard at the gate logs names and checks driver's licenses.

The program is in 36 cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Wright home to become a museum

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The public may soon be able to tour a parallelogram-shaped home that represents Frank Lloyd Wright's foray into affordable housing.

A nonprofit group recently bought the home and surrounding 10.5 acres for $1.7 million from owner Russell Kraus. The home, which is said to be in good condition, along with its furnishings, is one of two Frank Lloyd Wright homes in St. Louis. It was completed in 1955.

Even the bedrooms and bathrooms in the 1,900-square-foot home are parallelograms. The home came with two right angles and many instructions. True to form, Wright told Kraus where to place the furniture, what bushes to plant, even what brand of vacuum to buy.

The nonprofit group, which calls itself the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebworth Park, will restore and manage the home. The St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Department will maintain the property.

Chairman Joanne Kohn expects to spend $500,000 on renovations, which will take about a year to complete.

The group plans to charge a nominal admission fee and provide tours through the two-bedroom home and weave walking paths and gardens through the grounds. An educational facility also may be added for students of Wright's 70-year career.

Train service proposed for the Smokies

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A group studying future mass transit needs envisions a passenger railroad serving the area leading to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

As proposed, the line would run from Exit 407 off Interstate 40 to the Gatlinburg entrance to the national park.

Right-of-way issues, however, could be thorny, and the cost would be between $500 million and $1 billion, according to a report drawn up by the Nine Counties Mass Transit Committee.

"Any system that works within the core of the corridor will probably have to be elevated," the report said. "Monorail, while very expensive, is an option that must be considered there.

"A ground-based system, such as light rail, will probably require the development of an alignment that parallels the main highway but falls immediately outside the most densely populated area."

Investigators probe houseboat deaths

PHOENIX (AP) -- Federal researchers are testing carbon monoxide levels of houseboats at Lake Mead in the wake of a study released last year that found seven deaths and 74 injuries related to houseboat exhaust on Lake Powell during the 1990s.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted similar tests at two other popular houseboat destinations, Lake Cumberland in Kentucky and Lake Powell, where they have found dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide.

Kentucky's Lake Cumberland is considered the nation's houseboat capital with more than a dozen manufacturers nearby and about 1,500 houseboats docked there.

Two houseboat manufacturers whose boats are rented at Lake Mead, Fun Country Marine Industries and Pacific Boat, asked the researchers to test their houseboats.

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