Village streetscape work starts today
Benches, trash cans and awnings will go missing from Vail Village next week.
The disappearing items will be due not to vandals but the start of the much-discussed Vail Village streetscape project. In addition to hauling stuff away, crews will also install some temporary water lines and lights along Gore Creek Drive, Wall Street and lower Bridge Street.
The work next week will pale in comparison to what will start on Monday, April 19. Starting at 7 a.m. that day, the big machines will roll in, ripping up and hauling away Vendetta’s deck and the pavers on Wall Street. The big machines will also start the process of digging up and replacing utility lines in the village, some of which are buried as deep as 20 feet.
At an April 8 meeting at the Christiania Lodge, town officials and village merchants met to discuss the schedule for the next couple of weeks, as well as the concerns village businesses have about the project.
Among the biggest of those concerns is the planned closure of the Covered Bridge from April 26 to May 12. George Knox, owner of the Mug Shop and Moose’s Caboose on Bridge Street, said the town figure out how to direct off-season visitors, many of whom are senior citizens, into the heart of the village.
Plans are in the works for a shuttle system of golf carts driven by “ambassadors.” The system would be similar to the one used at the Ford Amphitheater, Scott Bluhm, the site liasion for the town, said.
In addition to a shuttle system, Bluhm said the flaggers to be posted around the village’s streets will be hired by B&B Excavating, the firm handling the project. The intent is for the flaggers to come from the ranks of ski shop workers and other local employees who can guide visitors around town. In addition, the town will have maps of the area available at the visitor’s center in the Village Transportation Center and other sites. That map will also have information about what businesses are open.
Merchants might need some guidance as well. The number of merchant parking passes will be dramatically cut this summer, which will make already-limited parking in the area even more precious.
Bluhm said a few short-term parking spaces will be available at Checkpoint Charlie, but demand will probably be high for those spaces.
“We need to tell people, ‘Don’t come downtown unless you really need to,’ because the loading zones will really be constricted,” Knox said.
While merchants continue to voice some apprehension about the project, Knox said the village will survive. A business owner in the village since the 1960s, Knox said he’s seen other big projects over the years.
“I know it sounds scary,” Knox said. “But everybody’s going to get through it. It’s not going to be as devastating as a lot of people think.”
Make no mistake, though, there’s a lot of work ahead, Town Manager Stan Zemler said. “This is going to be heavy equipment in the village, and it’s going to be a mess. But we need to have a picture of the end product in mind,” Zemler said.