Vail council looks at ideas for regional transportation authority |

Vail council looks at ideas for regional transportation authority

The timeline is tight to go to voters this year

A proposed regional transportation authority could include reviving plans for an Interstate 70 interchange to directly serve the Eagle County Regional Airport.
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The Vail Town Council got a look Tuesday at what a regional transportation authority might look like in Eagle County.

The session was supposed to be a public hearing, but since it came after a marathon session on an East Vail housing proposal, there was only one person who asked a question.

Resident Susan Bird asked if the potential authority might include rail. The short answer from ECO Transit Director Tanya Allen was, in essence, maybe, but not right away.

Allen, along with consulting attorney Polly Jessen, briefed council members on the timeline for creating an authority as well as some other details.

The first step will be participating jurisdictions signing an intergovernmental agreement. The agreement is then sent to both the Colorado Department of Transportation and neighboring jurisdictions.

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Voters in the November election will then decide whether to create the authority and its associated funding.

Before voting on the agreement, Vail Town Council members had a number of questions for Allen.

Council member Jonathan Staufer wondered if Glenwood Springs could be part of the authority.

Jessen said an existing authority can contract for services with other jurisdictions.

Council member Travis Coggin told Allen he’s “concerned” about the timeline and the ability to raise enough money. But, Coggin added, he’s particularly concerned about an idea to build an Interstate 70 interchange to serve the Eagle County Regional Airport, calling it a “horrible goal.”

That interchange was designed in the first decade of the 2000s, and at one point was viewed as “shovel ready,” with a 2008 cost estimate of $80 million. But the necessary federal funding didn’t come.

Coggin said he didn’t believe there’s enough demand to justify building the new interchange. But, Allen said, the logic behind the idea is to directly connect the airport with transit and cargo trucks, and keeping those vehicles off U.S. Highway 6 between Eagle and Gypsum.

In a 2009 news story, officials in Eagle and Gypsum said the interchange would benefit both towns, as well as the airport.

Allen said there’s still room for debate and discussion about the interchange, as well as other elements of the proposal.

Five facts

What: A proposed regional transportation authority.

How it would be created: Voters have to approve, as well as the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Possible participants: Eagle County, along with the county’s towns except Basalt, as well as the Beaver Creek Metro District.

What it would do: Enhance mass transit, including buses and, possibly the Eagle County Regional Airport.

How it might be funded: A transportation sales tax increase from .5% to 1%, along with a 1% “visitor benefit tax” and, perhaps, state and federal grants.

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