Vail Daily letter: Vail underpass revisited
August 26, 2014
Per the Aug. 19 Vail town council meeting: Wow, again things going back to square one and what former Mayor Peggy Osterfoss called the “11th-hour brigade.” Once things got back to square one questions, I thought the original objectives and requirements should have been brought out, but they weren’t. Mayor Daly was closest to doing this when he brought up the general word “safety” with the CDOT representative — who at this late date was quoted as saying it was not clear the federal government would approve all this. Listening to the whole presentation, my “reverse engineering” to come up with objectives are:
• Provide 24/7 pedestrian access under I-70 to help prevent our young people from getting killed while crossing the interstate. One preventable loss of human life alone might be the over-riding, single most important objective.
• In emergency situations, provide north-south, south-north access under I-70 for fire, police, ambulance, CDOT, etc., for shaving off precious minutes in general and in particular when one or both of the west and main roundabouts are clogged. Note there is a double whammy compounding these roundabouts — with entry/exit points to I-70.
• Provide mobility for locals by shortening some of our local trips to/from the post office, retail/restaurants, gas stations, etc.
• Not making things worse — sort of like the Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm.”
If my reverse engineered objectives are correct, the solution to these objectives has come down to an underpass opposite Savoy Villas, with full-on roundabouts on each side of the underpass. From the meeting it is clear these roundabouts have a myriad of issues too numerous to list — but including large truck and truck/trailers issues that in fact can make things worse. A real-world example is a large rig getting stuck trying to use the underpass just at the time when it is needed for emergencies!
My suggestion is to consider alternatives to the two new large-enough-for-trucks roundabouts — namely not allowing (called “prohibiting”) anything except passenger cars and pickup trucks to pass under the I-70 on a daily basis. This would drive two possible solutions:
• First, install a “T” on each side, allowing only daily small vehicles to use the underpass but allowing the larger emergency vehicles to use it with traffic control personnel in place. Note we have a “T” underpass going to the bus town shops out by the golf course.
• Install mini-roundabouts on each side, allowing only daily small vehicles to use the underpass and with a design that only accommodates big/truck-trailers to go straight without slowing to almost a dead stop, but again allowing the larger emergency vehicles to use it with traffic control personnel in place as they would have to proceed from nearly a dead stop.
Either of these options would satisfy my concocted objectives and both would involve a much smaller footprint and require large “not allowed/prohibited” signage for trucks. Please “think inside of the objectives box.”