Another way to cross Vail’s interstate?
VAIL ” In the narrow Gore Valley ” bisected by Interstate 70 ” you sometimes have to travel a few extra miles if you want to go a few hundred feet across the freeway. Between Vail Village and West Vail, the roundabouts are the only gateways from the north side of town to the south side.
But the town has a new gateway on its wish list, even though there’s no money for it now. A proposed underpass would go under the interstate from the Cascade on the south to the Simba Run condos on the north.
Tom Neyens, who lives in the Sandstone area and works directly across the highway in Lionshead, has to drive to work because he makes deliveries for his job. But sometimes pedestrians beat him to work because they use the Lionshead pedestrian bridge and he has to go to the roundabout.
“It just cracks me up,” he said.
But the proposal is about more than the inconvenience of adding a couple of minutes to locals’ commute times. As Vail roads get busier, the roundabouts will get more clogged, Vail officials say.
Neyens said he already sees a lot of traffic on the main Vail roundabout in the wintertime, especially on powder days.
“I think it’ll alleviate a lot of the bottlenecking in the roundabout,” he said. “It can just become a scene there.”
It’s also a safety issue. The underpass is proposed in an area that’s infamous for pedestrians trying to run across the interstate. Over the last few years, several people have been hurt trying to do that.
But the $20 million project is on hold until somebody can come up with the money to do it.
The project showed up on the state transportation agency’s 25-year list of projects. But the state doesn’t have enough money for all of the projects on the list.
Greg Hall, director of public works for the town of Vail, said the town doesn’t have the money to do it now, either. With the redevelopment happening in Vail now, the town may be able to get developers to help pay for it, he said.
The new development is adding the extra traffic onto the roads. By the time the “second wave” of development happens in Vail, including in West Lionshead, at Timber Ridge and in West Vail, the roads will have more traffic, he said.
“(The new underpass) becomes more of a priority when that development happens,” he said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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