Vail Valley Voices: Vail traffic takes a toll
Ryan Summerlin October 11, 2012
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com
Stresses are beginning to appear, caused by unanticipated consequences from the press of new consumers produced by the Vail Renaissance and its associated marketing strategies.
These consumers, seeking to achieve the full measure of enjoyment out of their Vail short-stay holiday, are noticeably getting in each other’s way as they crowd onto the town center’s streets and recreational paths. The perception of traffic conflicts and congestion is raising public safety concerns in several town center neighborhoods.
Expansionist leadership did not fully assess the consequences of an unprecedented upsurge in boom era growth. The rule of unintended consequences now applies.
The community’s traffic circulation system needs investment and increased enforcement. A plan as to what needs to be done is now necessary as the next phase of growth is beginning to stir. There are rising voices calling to expand the area of restricted public vehicular access as has been carried out in Vail Village and Lionshead. Officials have yet to study the cumulative effect of a substantial increase in more density upon highly trafficked neighborhoods. The Homeowners Association is calling for a comprehensive review of traffic congestion management and safety enforcement in affected neighborhoods.
Vail’s founders took great care to balance both commercial and residential interests as they considered each as an important contribution to the community’s economic growth and sustainability. They did so within the larger context of protecting and preserving Vail’s stunning and fragile natural environment.
Vail’s natural environment in need of serious repair and protection: Going largely unnoticed or quietly spoken of, is the deterioration of Vail’s natural environment, which has been sidelined in the larger debate over local economic development and social equity issues. Nearly all major tree species have become afflicted with devastating ailments, which many attribute to climatic warming.
The fear of wildfire multiplies as the toll of dying trees mounts. Large swaths of national forest lands are being cleared in a purported effort to rebalance the mix of native trees, which will take decades to show results and years to restore the areas’ scenic beauty.