Town, Vail Mountain School look at ways to ease traffic |

Town, Vail Mountain School look at ways to ease traffic

Possible solutions include lowering speed limits, creating school zones

Vail Mountain School and the town of Vail are working to ease frontage road traffic congestion during pickup and dropoff times. In this image, the main building is just below and to the right of the athletic field.
Vail Mountain School/courtesy image

Vail Mountain School is working with the town of Vail on ways to ease before- and after-school traffic tie-ups on the frontage road in front of the school.

Town and school officials have been working for the past year on ways to amend a conditional use permit originally issued in 2000 for the school’s campus at the East Vail site.

That permit was originally supposed to be revisited when the school’s enrollment exceeded 330 students. That happened in the 2006-07 school year. But changes in town staff and school leadership led to the permit language being forgotten for a time.

Residents have written to town officials about congestion around the school during drop-off and pickup times. That’s led to town and school officials for the past year or so working on ideas to ease that congestion.

The school is preparing an application for the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission. School and town officials Tuesday updated the Vail Town Council on parts of that plan.

The idea of a joint project is due in large part to costs. Building turn lanes in the area could exceed $1 million for each lane.

Local planner Dominic Mauriello is working for the school. He presented council members with several ideas to ease congestion in the area, ranging from lowering the speed limit on the frontage road to imposing a school zone in the area to changes to the parking lot at the school.

“We think these improvements alone can have a significant impact,” Mauriello said.

Other ideas include finding ways to improve carpooling into school and, perhaps, staggered start times.

School officials are also proposing some cost-sharing ideas with the town. Mauriello said traffic in the area often exceeds Colorado Department of Transportation standards. That department has jurisdiction on the town’s frontage roads.

Vail Mayor Kim Langmaid said she has friends and acquaintances in East Vail, and is happy to see the work being done.

Council member Jonathan Staufer noted that he’s one of four Vail Mountain School alumni on the council — the other three are Langmaid, Travis Coggin and Pete Seibert.

“We wouldn’t allow this from any other operator in town — this is a serious problem,” Staufer said.

Coggin agreed, saying the traffic problem has to be sorted out for the sake of the neighborhood.

Council member Kevin Foley noted there are also traffic problems at Red Sandstone Elementary School.

“School zones at both schools would make a heck of a difference,” he said.

Five facts

The town of Vail in 2000 approved a conditional use permit for a new Vail Mountain School campus.

The permit had to be revisted if the school’s enrollment exceeded 330 students.

The school hit that plateau in the 2006-2007 school year.

The school’s enrollment for the past five years has been in the 420-440 students range.

Vail’s frontage roads are in the jurisdiction of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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