Vail: Will state requirements kill frontage road parking?
May 17, 2011
The Federal Highways Administration and Colorado Department of Transportation are telling the town of Vail that if it continues to allow cars to park along the Frontage Roads, the town must invest in some costly improvements.
The required improvements and costs vary depending on the section of North and South Frontage Road in question, but if the town were to make improvements along all of the sections of the frontage roads that it currently uses for parking it could cost close to $2 million.
Based on the Vail Town Council’s discussion Tuesday afternoon, council members aren’t so sure the investment would be worth it.
The council has previously said its goal is to get cars off the frontage roads permanently, but hasn’t defined a time frame in which members expect that can happen.
“If we’re going to get off the frontage roads, we’re not going to spend $1.9 million to do something (now),” Mayor Dick Cleveland said.
The discussion quickly turned to whether the town should allow any free parking at all. While weekend parking along the frontage road in front of Safeway has been allowed for about a decade, the seven day per week frontage road parking in several places throughout town has only been in place for three years, Councilman Andy Daly said.
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Jim Lamont, executive director of the Vail Homeowners Association, pointed out that one of Vail’s founding and guiding principles is that there would not be on-street parking in town.
“By having this discussion, you’re turning that whole principle on its head,” Lamont said. “When did free parking become a right?”
The council agreed to look further into how it could implement some of the required changes and what it would cost, and whether the town could, or should, move forward.
Vail Public Works Director Greg Hall said the state’s requests are reasonable, but now that free parking along the frontage road could cost the town $2 million, the council plans to reevaluate whether free parking is something the town can afford to provide.
“I think it will be pretty easy to explain to the public that it was fine when it was free, but it’s not free (anymore),” Councilwoman Margaret Rogers said. “Blame it on CDOT, in other words.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.