Ban parking on Vail’s frontage roads?
Aspen, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” An association of Vail homeowners has suggested the benefits of banning parking on the frontage roads next winter.
The move would improve safety and encourage the use of mass transit, said Jim Lamont, executive director of the Vail Village Homeowners Association. But it could also mean lots of skiers have to find some other way ” perhaps taking a bus ” to get to Vail Mountain.
“The frontage roads are the lifeline of the community,” Lamont said. “If they become unsafe and congested, the whole community grinds to a halt.”
The frontage roads are used for overflow parking when the town’s two parking garages are full. That happened 48 times last season, with more than 14,000 cars parked on the frontage roads during a near-record-breaking snowfall year. On busy Fridays and Saturdays, cars can line the roads for miles both east and west of the ski mountain. The town tries to limits the number of times cars are parked on frontage roads to 15.
Authorities cite safety concerns on the roads. Several doors of parked cars on the frontage road have been torn off by passing cars in recent years.
Lamont suggested that the private parking spaces in large projects such as Solaris be rented to the public, much like hotel rooms. And pricing for parking should be higher on really busy days to encourage use of mass transit, he said. Vail won’t have to turn away any skiers if it manages its parking the right way, Lamont added.
The homeowners association is still considering whether to take an “official” position on the banning of frontage-road parking, Lamont said.
Alan Kosloff, a Vail resident and president of the Vail Village Homeowners Association, said simply the possibility of banning frontage-road parking might be a good thing.
“The threat in the background could generate some conversation,” he said.
Some people think the makeshift parking isn’t “the kind of image” Vail should project, Kosloff said. And on busy winter days, it’s hard for people to drive into town to go to lunch, he added.
This summer, town officials approved a plan to create more than 500 temporary parking spaces around Vail for next winter to alleviate the town’s parking crunch.
But Lamont, Kosloff and others are eyeing a more permanent solution. Kosloff hopes that the parking garage planned for Vail Resorts’ new ski village, Ever Vail, will help the parking problem.
Town Council members said they are reluctant to pursue a ban. Margaret Rogers, a councilwoman, said she’d like to see other ideas tried first.
“I don’t think it’s out of the question,” she said of a frontage-road parking ban. “If we can’t get Vail Resorts to help us with the parking problem we have, I think we have to look at all of the options, but that’s probably the last of the options we should consider.”
Rogers said it’s unclear whether frontage-road parkers spend a significant amount of money in town. While some merchants say frontage-road parking doesn’t equate to lots of shopping, Rogers said that hasn’t been substantiated.
Another councilman, Mark Gordon, said he opposes any ban on frontage-road parking.
“Vail relies on being welcoming, and we need to be welcoming to our guests,” Gordon said. “I agree that the frontage road is not an ideal situation for parking, but it’s what we have at this point in the short term.”
As for a long-term fix, the town should move on building a parking garage at Ford Park, to the east of Vail Village, Gordon said.
Vail Resorts did not respond to a request for an interview for this story.
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