State vows to help unstall ‘renaissance’
VAIL ” The state Department of Transportation’s top regional official says he really doesn’t want to slow does any of the big projects in Vail.
“We understand how important it is to the valley, and we want to try to get you there as quickly as we can,” said Weldon Allen, Region 3 director for the state agency.
One project, Solaris, remains stalled because it’s seeking a permit from the Department of Transportation. At least one other project, the Four Seasons, has been delayed because of the permits.
Other Vail project will likely need the permits, too.
The developers count on using the department’s land ” underground, on the surface and in its airspace ” to build their projects.
Developers have said they are frustrated with getting the permits, saying the process is taking too long. But Allen said the department is “very close” to being ready to issue one type of permit.
The transportation department and the Federal Highway Administration hold joint jurisdiction over the south frontage road, which borders the projects.
Allen said the state and federal agencies are still trying to establish criteria for issuing these permits. In fact, Vail’s situation is unique in the state of Colorado, Allen said.
Because it’s joint jurisdiction between the state and the federal governments, the process is more difficult, Allen said. Proposals must be shuttled between the state and the federal agency, slowing the process further.
“Them having oversight, they will take a good, strong look at what’s going on in the interstate right-of-way to preserve the best interests of all the folks who use it,” he said.
As the old Highway 6 has turned into the interstate, the frontage roads have remained in the hands of the state and U.S., even though they are essentially town streets.
The state department has offered to give the frontage roads back to Vail.
“That’s Vail’s choice,” Allen said. “We’ve laid the platter out there.”
But that would mean extra costs for Vail, including maintenance, paving and snow-plowing. Vail already faces a $25.8 million shortfall over the next five years in its capital budget.
Allen said his department has devoted a lot of resources toward issuing the permits. At the same time, the state transportation department isn’t in the development business, Allen said.
“We’ll support the town of Vail all we can,” Allen said. “But we’re not the Colorado department of hotel development. We’re the Colorado Department of Transportation.”
More projects may need these permits from the state transportation department and the federal highway agency, including the $1 billion EverVail and the $600 million Lionshead parking structure redevelopment.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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