New Vail roundabout will serve as entrance to Vail Health Hospital

Project will be built between April and November of this year

A new roundabout on Vail’s South Frontage Road will be built this year to provide access to Vail Health Hospital. The roundabout site can be seen on the street to the left of the new Vail Health helipad.
Special to the Daily.

Vail’s next big road project — another roundabout — will start this year. The project will affect traffic in one of the town’s most-traveled areas.

Vail Town Engineer Tom Kassmel recently told the Vail Town Council the project will go out to bid in the next month or so, with a contract awarded in March. Work is expected to begin in April, with a completion date set for Nov. 1 of this year.

Kassmel said the project will keep one lane of traffic in each direction open during construction.

Construction will be kept to the westbound lanes through the summer. Kassmel said that would allow easier access to the Vail International condos and Vail Health.

The roundabout has long been part of the expansion plan at Vail Health Hospital, and will move much of that facility’s traffic to Vail’s South Frontage Road, and off of West Meadow Drive.

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The new roundabout carries an estimated price of $9 million. Vail Health is contributing roughly $911,000, with the rest of the money coming from the Vail Reinvestment Authority. That Authority was created to fund public improvements in and around Lionshead as that area redeveloped.

The roundabout has been under discussion and design for about 10 years, Kassmel said, adding that the project is the result of trying to get traffic off West Meadow Drive and accommodate access to a busy part of town.

A roundabout is the best solution to serving a number of access points off the frontage road, Kassmel said. The Vail Health project allowed planners to create a roundabout with the “least impact” to other users.

In addition to the Vail Health emergency department and the Vail Health Medical Professional Building, the roundabout will provide access to Vail’s municipal campus and Evergreen Lodge. The project will also create new sidewalks, and new bus shelters will be built on both the north and south sides of the road.

The new roundabout will also change how motorists get in and out of that part of town.

For instance, motorists leaving the Four Seasons hotel will no longer be able to turn left — west — out of the hotel. Instead, drivers will have to turn right — east — and go through the main Vail roundabout to head west.

Those entering the hospital or the medical professional building from the east will have to drive around the roundabout instead of making what’s now a left turn.

The project will result in two lanes of traffic in each direction, and those lanes will be separated by a median from the main Vail roundabout all the way to the Lionshead parking structure.

With a new roundabout will come new signs. In this case, there will be a number of new street signs, from flashing pedestrian crossing signs to directional signs to town hall, the hospital and the Evergreen Lodge.

That worries longtime Vail resident and former Mayor Bob Armour, who has talked to the council several times about the proliferation of new street signs in town.

“We have to be careful we don’t create a situation where we can’t see the signs for all the signs,” Armour said. Signs have proliferated to the point that visitors and locals “can’t pay attention (to driving) because of all the signs.”

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