Council to discuss noise wall at Tuesday’s meeting
VAIL — The Vail Town Council will continue its discussion of the Interstate 70 Vail Underpass project at its evening meeting on Tuesday. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers with opportunities for public comment.
Two agenda items have been scheduled to discuss the underpass project. The first, listed sixth on the agenda, is the continuation of a discussion from the Town Council’s Dec. 16 meeting to determine the level of interest, if any, in adding additional funds to the project to construct an acrylic noise wall, assuming the noise wall is approved in an upcoming vote by affected properties. This additional cost to the town for the acrylic enhancement is estimated to be $800,000. If the council determines not to provide the additional funding, then a typical concrete post and panel noise wall will be identified on the upcoming ballot information for affected properties. If the council determines to fund the additional amount, then it will be identified within the ballot that the council will preserve the option for the noise wall to be acrylic.
While no funding has currently been earmarked for a noise wall by the town or the Colorado Department of Transportation, CDOT’s future funding participation is restricted to a cost-share of the basic concrete wall mitigation. The town of Vail would be responsible for all other costs.
The Town Council’s funding preference for the noise walls will be included in the balloting process which will take place later in January with participation by the project’s benefiting receptors. The benefiting receptors are those units with outdoor spaces, such as decks and patios, that would receive a noticeable noise reduction of 5 decibels or more as a result of installation of the noise wall. There are an estimated 201 benefiting receptors eligible to take part in the vote, including the town of Vail.
The upcoming vote by the benefiting receptors is the topic for the second discussion item at Tuesday’s meeting, which is listed seventh on the agenda. In this case, the Town Council will review a list of options regarding the town’s role in the vote.
Of the estimated 201 benefiting receptors eligible to take part in the “yes” or “no” mail ballot process, each location will be allotted two votes, one for a resident/business, if applicable, and the remainder (one or two) will go to the owner. Due to its ownership of the Lion’s Ridge Village Homes/Timber Ridge property and the bike path, the town of Vail will have 138 potential votes in the process, or 34 percent of the votes. Town Council members will be discussing how to approach the voting process and ways to ensure the vote is transparent to the public.
Options for review on Tuesday include how to frame the town vote given competing interests. Those interests include representing the needs of future tenants of Lion’s Ridge Village Homes, community wide preferences on noise walls and aesthetics in general, fiscal responsibilities regarding project costs and a stated interest by the Town Council in pursing a noise wall demonstration project. A 2005 study identified the underpass area as one of two locations in Vail where noise walls may be reasonable and feasible to install. At the time, the recommendation was not pursued due to costs and aesthetics.
In addition to the noise wall topic, the project is further complicated by revised cost estimates which have increased from $20.8 million to $29 million. Project engineers have recommended continuing with the design phase to move the project from the current 30 percent design to a shovel-ready 90 percent design and to move forward with the noise wall vote. Should the noise wall be rejected and the project shelved due to costs, project officials say it is possible that future benefiting receptors could ask to revisit the noise wall question. Interstate noise in Vail has been an ongoing issue for over 30 years.
For additional information on this topic, visit the town’s project page on the website at vailgov.com or contact Town Engineer Tom Kassmel at 970-479-2235.