Public hearings scheduled for proposed regional transportation authority in Eagle River Valley

Eagle County, Avon, Eagle, Gypsum and Beaver Creek are all hosting hearings this week to seek input

A regional effort to maintain, enhance and expand ECO Transit is underway and now soliciting public feedback on its draft intergovernmental agreement.
Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily archive

The effort to establish a new regional transportation authority in the Eagle River Valley has been underway since 2020. And now, local municipalities are beginning to seek input from residents on the draft of an intergovernmental agreement that could go before voters as soon as November 2022.

The proposal for a new regional transportation authority seeks to better address the regional transportation needs of the community’s workforce, residents and visitors. While the existing authority, ECO Transit, has been fulfilling this service area in the community since 1996, regional transit needs have outpaced what the current authority is able to provide.

As proposed, not only would the new authority maintain the current services provided by ECO Transit, but it would seek to enhance and expand them as well.

While Eagle County, the Beaver Creek Metropolitan District as well as the towns of Avon, Eagle, Gypsum, Minturn, Red Cliff and Vail have been leading this effort, there has been participation from other local stakeholders and organizations through various committees. This includes representatives from ECO Transit, Vail Valley Partnership, Eagle Air Alliance and more.

Earlier this year, local leaders set an ambitious timeline for establishing the regional transportation authority. Part of this timeline includes a requirement for each participating municipality to host a minimum of two public hearings on the intergovernmental agreement, which the municipalities have all schedule for April and May.

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The public hearings are currently scheduled as follows:

According to Bill Ray, a consultant hired by the local governments to help coordinate the authority effort, the goal of these hearings is to hear about residents’ “transportation challenges and needs, how they might utilize improved and expanded transit, and any concerns they might have about their community participating in a regional transportation authority.”

The intergovernmental agreement

The proposed regional transportation authority boundaries as presented in the April 26 Avon Town Council packet.
Courtesy Photo

At these hearings, the municipalities will present the authority’s draft intergovernmental agreement — “a legal document that sets forth the governance, service goals and other key operating provisions of the RTA,” according to a presentation in the Avon Town Council packet its April 26 meeting.

Within the current draft of the intergovernmental agreement, parameters and details are established for how the board of directors will run, funding sources, service boundaries, statutory powers and responsibilities, initial projects, key procedures and service goals of the authority.

Among the first projects contemplated in the draft are creating a free fare zone and additional service in Avon, Vail, Minturn and Beaver Creek as well as increasing service on U.S. Highway 6 and in the towns of Dotsero and Leadville. New routes are also proposed, including an Eagle-Gypsum circulator and commuter routes. The draft also includes plans to accelerate the transition zero-emission regional transit service.

These projects align with the authority’s proposed service goals, which in addition to including things like enhancing service, adding routes and converting to zero-emission operations, also contemplates supporting local air service, regional trail planning and more. Many of these goals were established based on current needs as well as a transit survey conducted in fall 2021.

In order to fund this expansion of services and the new authority, the draft agreement contemplates a combination of sources. This includes using Eagle County’s existing .5% transportation sales tax and supplementing it with an additional .5% sales and use tax in the authority boundary, a potential 1% visitor benefit tax in the boundaries, discretionary member contributions and federal and state grants.

Should voters be presented with the prospect of this new regional transportation authority on the ballot in the upcoming November election, they would be asked to vote on this agreement as well as any other related tax increases or debt questions. The final version of the agreement would need to be voted on and approved in August by each participating municipality.

Next steps

Following the public hearings, the agreement will be sent to the Colorado Department of Transportation as well as neighboring jurisdictions for review and comment. The Colorado Department of Transportation must have at least a 90-day comment period for these types of agreements. According to Ray, this is expected to be sent in late May.

“When that happens, we will transition more of our work toward community outreach and engagement,” Ray said.

Should the group want to have the authority on the November 2022 ballot, it has until July 19 to notify the county clerk of intent to participate in the election.

To participate in the upcoming public hearings, visit each local municipalities’ website to view their board, council and commissioner schedules and agendas. In addition, the authority is soliciting input online at

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