Frontage Road of future discussed in Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – The times are changing, the town is growing, and Vail’s roads need to change, too, planners said.
Vail is looking at a long list of improvements that might be needed in the future based on projections of future town growth and new developments. In less than 20 years, traffic along the Frontage Road could increase up to 40 percent, said Chris Fasching, project manager with Felsburg, Holt and Ullevig Engineering.
The town hired the consulting firm to study Vail’s traffic needs. The suggested improvements include a new underpass at Simba Run, 1,000 new parking spots, a new roundabout in West Vail and Ford Park, as well as new bike lanes along the Frontage Road.
The town council will decide which improvements are needed and eventually make the list part of the town’s transportation master plan.
The problems come in paying for the improvements, which total an estimated $63 million. Funding could come from developments, federal and state grants, and taxes.
“This is a plan we can’t afford,” said Councilman Andy Daly. “There’s not way we can fund this in the next 10 years. (We need to ask), “What can we afford?” so that we can start looking at alternative funding sources.”
Here are a few of the improvements the town is considering:
o More parking: Vail needs about 400 new parking spaces now in order to handle the current parking demand. Additional spaces might be at Ever Vail, Vail Resort’s proposed new ski village, at a redeveloped Lionshead garage, or underneath Ford Park.
A study is underway to determine if Ford Park and the surrounding area would be suitable for an underground parking structure.
Town Manager Stan Zemler said the will determine if Ford Park parking is even feasible.
“Before we cause a lot of heartburn over this, let’s determine is it actually physically possible? Also, we’ll have some numbers on how much it costs,” he said.
The town might be looking outside of Vail’s boundaries for parking, too.
Councilwoman Margaret Rogers said that the town should be negotiating with the U.S. Forest Service to buy the ranger station parking lot outside of Minturn. The lot could be the site of a park-and-ride into Vail, she said.
“It’d be a whole lot cheaper than building anything up here,” she said. “It seems to me we should be looking at a model (more like Beaver Creek’s) instead of finding more in-town parking.”
o Bike lanes and rec paths: Cyclists going through Vail could get more room if the town adds wider shoulders to the Frontage Road to create a bike lane, said town engineer Tom Kassmel.
The plan would include 6 feet of shoulder to portions of the road that only have two lanes. Some portions of the road with more room would have two feet of gutter and four feet of additional shoulder. In other areas, the town would add a 10-foot, raised bike path, Kassmel said.
o Roundabouts at Ford Park and West Vail: A new roundabout east of the village at Ford Park might help divert traffic from the village’s busy cross roads, said Fasching.
The intersection of Vail Valley Drive and the Frontage Road is a trouble spot that is accident prone, he said. The roundabout would prevent people coming out of Vail Valley Drive from making a left turn. Instead, cars would have to go to the Ford Park roundabout in order to go west.
However, some town council members did not like the idea, saying that it would be a great inconvenience for people driving and living west of the village.
Another proposed roundabout would be in front of the Safeway in West Vail to help deal with the busy traffic in the area.
o Simba Run: The Interstate 70 underpass has been much discussed, but planners said it might be necessary in the future.
“If there was one improvement I had to do, that would the one,” Fasching said. “The drawback is that it would be an expensive one.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.