Vail Daily column: What to do about parking?
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a Vail Homeowners Association Visioning Vail Report. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
A goal of sustainable tourism is to get arriving consumers out of their cars quickly and into the shops, restaurants and attractions. Vail has successfully done this for 40 years, through its strategically- located parking structures in the heart of the community’s commercial town center.
It has been nearly 30 years since the Vail Village parking structure was expanded and the town of Vail last increased its inventory of structured public parking.
The town’s Vail and Lionshead village parking structures were built beginning in the 1970s to meet the commercial needs of Vail Mountain and the town center. The voter-approved general obligation bonds used to build these parking structures were paid off in 2012, leaving the town of Vail debt-free. For years, planners have estimated that the town center has a shortfall in parking of nearly 1,000 spaces. A shortcut approach has been taken by expanding parking on the Frontage Roads, which is fraught with public safety and image issues.
Vail’s summer on-mountain attractions are poised to take a quantum leap in the number of tourism visits; the schedule is overlaid with special events being held on public streets throughout the town center and could overpower all forms of available parking and seriously congest roadways. This would send the wrong message to consumers.
Planners are examining ways to make improvements that could help alleviate the problems. One of these is the Simba Run Underpass, which is now under construction. Traffic engineers say this underpass will improve traffic flow at the Interstate 70 interchanges, move traffic efficiently along the frontage roads and provide for express bus service between all of the town’s commercial centers. When other associated frontage road improvements are completed, the town will gain a free-flowing and landscaped main boulevard with no stop lights, strategically placed roundabouts and turn lanes onto neighborhood streets.
Throughout the years, several parking studies have been conducted that give indications of methods to increase the capacity of both the Vail and Lionshead villageparking structures. The municipal site could be developed for structured parking. Incentives are now in the town’s regulations to entice private developments to provide public parking. While this can be a long-term strategy, it is not in the short-term because the inventory of new residential and commercial development has slowed since 2007. The solutions should be put to both the community and public to decide.
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