Take the load off the Village | VailDaily.com

Take the load off the Village

Would you rather have to dodge a parked truck or a rushing deliveryman?

The town of Vail is considering setting up a network of loading docks to centralize deliveries and thereby keep pedestrian streets free of trucks. On its face, the idea is to improve the outdoor ambiance of the village.

Vail Village’s pedestrian streets are ostensibly already closed to truck traffic during all but the earliest hours of the day, when most people are still in bed. So is the town trying to fix a nonexistent problem by making life more convenient for nonexistent pedestrians?

Not really. Bridge Street and a couple of other central roads only allow trucks until 8:30 in the morning, a rule that likely was enacted to keep the village clear of trucks. But most other streets that now make up the heart of the village allow vehicle traffic until almost noon. And with any limits, this one is customarily abused.

So it’s clear that the early-morning system is broken, but should the Vail Town Council throw the baby out with the bathwater?

The chief advocate of the loading-dock plan is the Vail Village Homeowners Association. This is the same group that opposed the Town Council’s decision to allow outdoor music to be played later in the Village on weekends. The association also supported a feasibility study that found a $3 billion tunnel under Vail Mountain as a viable option for muffling the sound of traffic on Interstate 70.

Delivery trucks make noise. Are we starting to see a pattern here?

Nothing against the homeowners association’s motives. It’s no fun waking up to the sound of screeching brakes and slamming doors. But with relations between the town and businesses already strained by employee housing and other issues, the Town Council shouldn’t let a special-interest group fool it into fast-tracking a plan that might have better alternatives.

Some business owners are understandably upset about the increased labor costs the proposal would entail, and by forcing all deliveries to be made on foot from the docks to businesses, the work would take longer and there would be no reason for workers to get the bulk of it done before peak business hours. So instead of dodging trucks when you head out for your coffee, under the revised delivery plan you’ll be weaving through a constant stream of handcarts throughout the day.

The town should first try to fix the early-morning delivery system by making it clear that Village vehicle traffic stops after 8:30 a.m. Those business owners who don’t comply can expect the loading dock delivery system to become their only choice.

The Town Council needs to pick its battles, especially in a time when businesses are already feeling like they’re being backed into a corner.

” Evan Gibbard for the Editorial Board

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