Summer brings Vail improvement projects
June 22, 2014
VAIL — You might have to pardon the dust, but when it clears, a number of Vail projects will bring wider roads, park improvements, a new welcome center and a whole new look to the Lionshead Parking Garage.
Workers recently finished on a remodel of the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater entrance, just in time for the Bravo! Vail season to start. Demolition is also complete on the old Lionshead Inn and Lionshead Annex buildings and redevelopment has started on Strata in Lionshead Village.
Machinery keeps grinding away at Ford Park, which is slated to continue through 2014, with the construction of new playing fields and bus stop. At the east end of the park, the parking lot, previously a dirt field, will be paved and credit card payment machines will be installed.
That's some of the more obvious work, but other more subtle work will also be complete by the time next ski season rolls around.
Lionshead GARAGE UPGRADES
All the construction and scaffolding blocking off the top entrance to the Lionshead Parking Structure will make way for a new entrance by Nov. 15.
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This project involves replacing the existing parking attendant booths with a new entrance structure with integrated booths and new landscaping and irrigation. New snowmelt means the entry and exit lanes don't need to be plowed. Pass holders will enjoy an "express exit" on the lower level, too. The idea is to relieve congestion at the top exit gate and incentivize the use of passes.
Also, the lower skier drop-off will be modified into a one-way loop. The $2.2 million project (funded by TIF dollars through the Vail Reinvestment Authority) began April 21, but there will be no work between June 27 and Sept. 2 so that the garage can be used for summer parking. Construction will be completed in the fall.
As of this weekend, workers were pouring concrete on the entry drive lanes and removing the wall at the skier drop-off area.
"The purpose of the Lionshead Parking Structure Entry Improvement project is to improve the operational efficiency, safety, guest experience and aesthetics of the (entry)," said Tom Kassmel, Vail's town engineer.
Both cars and bikes will have more room on the Frontage Road by the end of June with the completion of road work that will provide 4- to 6-foot shoulders and a left turn lane at Red Sandstone Elementary School.
The new shoulders follow "sharrows" that were painted earlier in the month around the villages in an effort to create better flow and safety for cyclists and motorists. The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to give the road a new overlay later in the year, so the lane stripes won't be repainted until after that project.
Vail Village Welcome Center
Not that Vail could ever be tagged unfriendly to visitors, but the town aims to become even more welcoming with new signs and a remodeled visitor's center in Vail Village.
Wayfinding signs and new electronic variable message signs will help people exiting the interstate navigate the town, and in August, work will start on expansion of the welcome center, located at the top of the Vail Village parking garage.
The 250-square-foot expansion will add a new women's bathroom and create a roomier area and higher ceilings for the service and information desk. The job will finish up with new interior finishes, flooring and a "re-skin" of the exterior.
A separate remodeling project is in the works for the attached Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum.
John King, Vail's facility manager, said the current welcome center was built around 1990, and the new look will create a more inviting space.
"Both the north and south side will have a much expanded window system that will allow people to look through the building," he said. "Also, the front windows will have an etched 'I' for information that will make it more visible to people from the highway."
WiFi, cell tower infrastructure
As part of a bigger project to complete a distributed antennae system to increase broadband capacity and speed within the town, fiber optics are being laid throughout the summer.
The new system is the first of its kind in the country and is designed to bring better service to places with geographical constraints such as mountains and narrow valleys. Instead of one big tower for each cell company, the new system puts a total of 29 nodes throughout the town. About seven of those nodes are already built, and all the hubs for the nodes are also finished. The completed project, (slated to finish by fall for testing and be up and running by winter of 2015), will bring faster town of Vail WiFi and better coverage for all cell users.
"People will hugely notice both signal and quality, fewer dropped calls, as well as the capacity and speed they'll be able to download data," said Ron Braden, Vail's IT director. "We're building it over-capacity because at any given event, the town could be packed. It's something we knew we had to get done to survive (the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships.)"
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and firstname.lastname@example.org.