Vail plots pedestrian safety improvements in highly trafficked areas
Town Council to review the initial concepts for installing bollards and safety measures in both villages and other busy areas
The town of Vail has budgeted $1.95 million over the next three years to design and install pedestrian safety improvements in high-pedestrian areas such as Vail Village, Lionshead Village, Dobson Ice Arena and Ford Park.
In January, the Town Council approved a $282,585 contract with engineering consultant firm Kimley-Horn to kick-start the project’s design process. And at its Tuesday, Feb. 21 meeting, the Town Council will review the initial design concepts and potential challenges.
At a high level, the project will include the installation of safety measures and barricades throughout the town’s highly trafficked pedestrian areas. The goal, according to a memo in the Feb. 21 Town Council packet, is to “provide a safe and inviting pedestrian experience within the Town’s high pedestrian areas.”
Specifically, the project’s aim is to provide three main things. Not only does the town wish to create a safer pedestrian environment, but it is also aiming to have flexible vehicle access control for the vehicles that do need to access these areas as well as create secure designated event areas.
In concept, the idea is to install bollards (most being either retractable or removable) in key areas throughout Vail Village, Lionshead Village, Ford Park as well as the area near Dobson and the Vail Public Library. According to the memo, this project could include approximately 70 bollards or equivalent safety measures and barriers.
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At its Tuesday meeting, the Town Council will see the initial concepts from Kimley-Horn as well as confirm the overall project’s goals and review the concerns. The memo holds that preliminary discussions with the design team have made it “apparent that the town will have multiple challenges in fully achieving” the project’s goals.
One of the main challenges is that there are a significant number of authorized vehicles that need to access these areas on a daily basis.
“The high frequency of access makes security and mitigating intentional terroristic vehicle attacks very difficult,” the memo reads.
The council will review two preliminary concepts or programs, both of which could also be altered based on the council’s goals. (Both programs would give the town the option of flexibility by allowing for control for each bollard to be up or down when needed.)
Safe access control
The first program — which is estimated to cost between $2 million to $3 million — would allow the town to control its existing access points, allow authorized access via a controlled access checkpoint or at other locations with limited access proximity cards (for buses, maintenance, emergency and loading and delivery vehicles, etc.).
This, “will function well for standard vehicle access control and to provide a safer pedestrian environment most of the time,” the report reads.
However, where it falls flat is it would “not eliminate the threat of an intentional malicious attack on pedestrians by means of a vehicle,” which would require the town to invest in additional security measures.
Safe and secure access control
While the second program would accomplish the same tenants as the “safe access control” option, it would add these additional security measures with a larger price tag estimated between $5 million and $7 million.
Primarily, it would “assist in mitigating the threat of errant and or intentional/terroristic vehicles, particularly in designated special events areas,” according to the memo.
Some of these additional security measures include adding “high impact barriers” in untypical access points like landscape areas, within narrow pedestrian walkways as well as on private property. This program would also allow for the town to create designated secure special event areas.
To implement this program, the town would need new operational protocols as well. This includes changing how authorized vehicles access the village, and defining specific locations and times within certain secure areas.
According to the memo, town staff is recommending proceeding with this second option, based on the “initial goals set for this project.”
However, Town Council will be asked to review not only the programs but also the goals of the project on Tuesday. After which, the town staff will refine the budget — including pursuing grant opportunities — and forge ahead with whichever program design and implementation is desired by council.
While managing the high volume of vehicle access to these pedestrian areas will be the project’s primary challenge, the packet identifies several other issues the town could implement.
This includes operational challenges that could arise due to weather as well as to technological or human error, impacts to infrastructure during installation (specifically the town’s utilities and snowmelt system) as well as the possibility of having to install bollards and other safety measures on private property.
With the number of challenges and sheer size of the project, the town sees the potential for this project to be phased and include a pilot of the program. According to the packet, town staff is contemplating a phased construction, starting with a spring or fall 2023 pilot program at Checkpoint Charlie, a 2024 perimeter control phase in the two villages and more phases for special event areas and Ford Park.
Vail Town Council will discuss this project at its Tuesday, Feb. 21 Town Council evening meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. To view the agendas or for information on how to participate and attend the meetings, visit VailGov.com.