Vail Valley Voices: Golden Peak gridlock
Vail, CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report for March. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com
Many of Vail’s Golden Peak neighborhood property owners are skeptical that any substantive changes that could increase traffic would be an improvement.
Many neighborhood owners believe current conditions are a threat to public safety from speeders, particularly for pedestrians, many of whom are children.
Pedestrians haphazardly cross Vail Valley Drive, even on blind corners and particularly when there are long lines of stop-and-go vehicular traffic. Sidewalks are narrow, critical sections remain unheated and tricky to navigate when icy and snow-packed.
Witnesses recount recent collisions and hit-and-runs between vehicles. Tempers often flare, and on rare occasions, threatened fisticuffs arise over those who stop in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, to load or disgorge their passengers. The two-lane streets have limited right of way on which to install turn lanes. Cross traffic turning, during peak usage, immediately backs up traffic at intersections and driveway entrances.
The new Vail Village gondola, with its 1,000-person-per-hour increase in capacity, will reinforce Vail Village as the most desirable portal to access Vail Mountain. Blend in the potential for an increasing frequency of winter and summer large spectator events at Golden Peak and Vail Village, and the scope of the multi-seasonal congestion problems are magnified.
The neighborhood has endured traffic congestion for decades, to a point where at times, officials appear to turn a blind eye.
Conversations are taking place among some neighbors about pooling resources to hire private security guards and gate the entrances to their neighborhood side streets, as has been done elsewhere in the community, such as Check Point Charlie.
Some town officials have little sympathy for neighborhood property owners, who, as they see it, benefit from the desirable location and its higher real estate values.
That benefit is little comfort to those who at times can’t get to their front door or have to cross the street in a dash to avoid frustrated and impatient drivers. Planners would like to believe that they can zone away the traffic problem with speculative master planning by generating new development fees to cover the cost of public infrastructure
Even with zoned increases in density, there is little indication that older buildings will give way to the new anytime soon because of projected long-term economic conditions.