Vail Valley Voices: Traffic trumps parking in Vail
Vail, CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report for September. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com
The aftermath of the high-priced public parking of Vail’s renaissance construction boom has put more traffic on residential neighborhood streets around the Golden Peak ski base area. Cost-conscious skiers want the convenience of lift side drop-off and pickup.
Hardest hit by the “drive to” trend is the Golden Peak residential neighborhood along a section of Vail Valley Drive from the South Frontage Road to the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail building just east of the Golden Peak Children’s Center.
Vail Valley Drive, the two-lane main traffic vehicular access artery, at times becomes overwhelmed at the beginning and end of the ski day, especially during peak season weekends and holidays.
This trend is at odds with Vail’s town center plan as it was originally conceived and implemented in the 1960s and ’70s. The plan was to minimize vehicular traffic, emphasizing the concept of a European pedestrian walking village.
The town invested millions in public parking structures, built adjacent to the South Frontage Road, encouraging visitors to park and walk. Additional millions have been spent on beautification of its pedestrian-friendly streets in the commercial-residential areas of Vail Village.
The Golden Peak ski base area, which was redeveloped in the 1990s, is the primary destination for vehicular traffic moving through the larger Golden Peak neighborhood on the eastern edge of the Vail Village commercial center.
It has never received the same degree of public investment by the town as Vail Village has. That, by necessity, may change with the town of Vail potentially having to invest millions to upgrade the neighborhood’s transportation and traffic flow system, particularly if it intends to continue expanding the Golden Peak ski base as a drive-to-lift-side mountain portal.
The price of success: According to neighborhood residents and lodge owners, what was a weekend inconvenience a few years ago has escalated into a near-daily occurrence during the winter season.
The marked increase in traffic has caused neighborhood residential owners to dig in their heels, questioning any proposal that increases traffic without proof that it will not further congest an already aggravating condition.