Vail’s on the right track |

Vail’s on the right track

Dominic Mauriello

As a local planner (and a former town of Vail planner), I want to quiet the alarms being set off by a small but vocal group concerned that voter approval of the new Crossroads on July 11 will be the catalyst for the urbanization of Vail, setting a bad precedent for all future Vail development or redevelopment.For the record, I am the planner for Crossroads and I hope that Vail voters who are still seeking objective, factual information about this project will turn directly to the plans and reports on file with the town of Vail.All objectivity aside, I firmly believe that Vail is headed in the right direction. Its foresight to undergo a $1 billion revitalization of public and private projects, while maintaining a core village charm, will ensure the resort community remains competitive among destination travelers as well as attractive to the year-round resident seeking quality of life.Let’s talk about traffic, because suddenly this is an issue that has emerged as a concern that some feel has not been adequately addressed. Can the Frontage Road handle the traffic added by Crossroads and the other approved development in the area?A traffic impact study (TIS) was completed for Crossroads by Fox Higgins Transportation for review by the town staff, the Planning and Environmental Commission, the Town Council and the Colorado Department of Transportation. That study was revised three or four times based on comments from the town engineer and the town’s traffic consultant. That study, which takes into account that Crossroads is a developed site today and has been contributing traffic to the Frontage Road for 30 years, concludes that the overall level of service on the South Frontage Road will operate at LOS “A” in the first year of project completion and LOS “A” in the year 2025. Level of service is graded similar to grades in school. LOS A is best and LOS F is complete failure. Most communities set their minimum standard at LOS D. All of the access permits required by CDOT have been issued and approved by CDOT, therefore CDOT agrees with our traffic engineer’s analysis of the traffic impacts. The Four Seasons, Vail Plaza Hotel & Club and all future development projects have had to or will have to go through similar traffic analysis as required by the town of Vail. And for the record, Vail’s revitalization has not prompted any plan (via the town, the state or at the federal level) to widen I-70 to eight lanes or the frontage roads to four lanes throughout Vail. In fact, the South Frontage Road adjacent to Crossroads and the town’s parking structure is already developed at five lanes.With regard to Vail’s pedestrian-friendly village atmosphere, what impacts will Crossroads bring to pedestrian traffic and parking? The Crossroads project is providing new heated sidewalks and a heated pedestrian plaza around and within the Crossroads property. The project also provides heated paver access through and around the building to help improve pedestrian access to the Vail Village Inn property to the west to help increase shopper traffic to retail areas on the back side of that project. Additionally, unlike any other project approved in Vail, the Crossroads project will rebuild West Meadow Drive and Village Center Road to the far side of the road to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment. In terms of parking, Crossroads is providing safe and convenient parking below grade. The 335 parking spaces being provided include 100 surplus parking spaces that can be used to accommodate additional skier and event parking in Vail to help reduce parking on the frontage roads and increase the supply of parking generally available to the general public. No other redevelopment project in the area is providing parking that will be publicly accessible in quite the same way as Crossroads. Using the parking example alone, the Crossroads project clearly improves the parking for the property and for the town as a whole. Every additional parking space that is built in this town and which is publicly available improves the parking supply for the town. In this project there are 335 such parking spaces, 100 of which are surplus to the retail parking provided.Because I’m intimately familiar with Crossroads’ impacts and benefits, having negotiated with a devoted and extremely thorough town of Vail planning staff, Planning & Environmental Commission and Town Council over the past couple of years, ensuring that the project complies with the town’s master plan, I feel confident in asking residents to use this project as a model for extracting public benefits going forward as you become involved with future development approval processes.Dominic Mauriello is the principal of Avon-based Mauriello Planning Group, LLC. He was a former town planner in Florida and with the Town of Vail. His firm currently assists landowners with understanding the rules and governmental process required for development of property so that landowners develop plans that are in tune with the goals outlined for specific parcels within a community.Vail, Colorado

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