Transit-center options still alive in Lionshead
VAIL, Colorado – From more ECO bus bays to pedestrian and traffic improvements to new building that would serve as a portal into Lionshead, there are several scenarios the town of Vail considered Tuesday for a new Lionshead transit center.
The scenarios would cost anywhere from $5 million to $41 million, although the Town Council agreed Tuesday that the project shouldn’t go over $15 million, including $5 million in federal funding that’s available for the project.
After a more than two-hour presentation going over the eight different options, council members narrowed it down to a scenario that would combine two options that feature traffic improvements, a skier drop-off in the Lionshead parking garage and ECO bus bays at the north side of the parking garage rather than the current stops at the Concert Hall Plaza in West Lionshead.
The purpose of a new transit center in Lionshead is to promote mass transit, improve mass-transit efficiency, create safer bus stops and pedestrian areas, enhance traffic flow and improve aesthetics, according to the project’s stated goals – reasons some Town Council members said most of the scenarios weren’t desirable.
“The problem we’re trying to solve is the transit problem,” said Councilwoman Margaret Rogers. “The whole idea behind this project was to begin to do that.”
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Councilman Kevin Foley said the town needs more transit before it should increase transit capacity, and the current economy leaves the county’s transit future unknown.
The debate was largely around the money for the project. The town can use its Tax Increment Financing District to pay for the project and also as debt repayment – the Vail Reinvestment Authority, which collects the funds, has the power to issue bonds without voter approval that are repayable from the funds.
The Vail Reinvestment Authority began collecting the incremental property tax revenue in 2007 and now has $2.8 million. It can collect money until 2030, and the town could have as much as $50 million available for debt repayment through the funds over time.
Council members agreed that the town shouldn’t overburden itself with the project, however.
The council was divided over two of the project scenarios and agreed to have staff work on some scaled-back combination of the two. The council will review a new scenario at an upcoming meeting.