Vail works to construct new transportation plan
VAIL — The new underpass beneath Interstate 70 won’t be fully open until late 2017, but town officials are planning now for how the underpass will affect traffic and transit patterns through town.
In fact, the town is working to update its 2009 transportation master plan. That plan will have a lot of detail, but will, ultimately, have a big impact.
At a sparsely-attended kickoff meeting on Monday, town officials and consultants usually outnumbered residents, but the meeting brought a few residents who were loaded with opinions.
Audre Engelman suggested that the town consider covering I-70, an idea that’s been proposed before, and, ultimately, rejected due to its cost.
Bobby Lipnick recently moved to Vail full-time, and volunteered to be on a task force searching for ways to make Vail the first “sustainable” ski resort.
Reflecting on his own difficulty finding parking in town on Saturday evening, Lipnick said the town’s transit system needs to be more frequent and reliable.
“That way more of us can leave our cars at home,” Lipnick said.
“Transportation is the key to the sustainability of Vail,” Lipnick added. He suggested the town might need more cycling paths, as well as some separation between paths for cyclists and pedestrians. As an aging dog’s human, Lipnick said he often sees the need for those separated paths.
Those are the sorts of things town officials and consultants want to hear.
“We want to hear what travel patterns can better serve (the public),” Gordon Shaw of LSC Transportation Consultants said.
Shaw said consultants have already talked to town bus drivers about potential new or revised routes. One of those routes might run on peak days from roughly Ford Park to Chamonix, with stops at the resort villages and several residential areas along the way.
How the new underpass will affect trips to Lionshead Village from neighborhoods on the north side of the interstate still has to be worked out.
Officials will also have to work out how best to program the town’s transit routes to eliminate redundancies in schedules and service the new underpass could create.
All of that planning, as well as envisioning the future of parking and vehicle traffic, are parts of a months-long process.
Vail Town Engineer Tom Kassmel said Tuesday’s meeting was the first of a handful of sessions planned for the summer and early fall.
The Vail Town Council will get a comprehensive look at the plan in the fall of this year, with an eye toward having a finished plan approved by the spring of 2017.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.