Would skiers pay to park on Vail roadsides?
Aspen, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colo. ” Eagle resident Jill Suarez was adamant when asked how much she would consider paying to park on the frontage road in Vail, Colo.
“I wouldn’t,” she said, asking why she should have to pay to park in a distant, inconvenient spot. “You park somewhere to take the West Vail bus, but then it still takes 30 minutes, and you have to haul all your stuff. It seems unfair that you should have to pay for that.”
Nevertheless, the town and state transportation department are discussing charges for the town’s Frontage Road, and the town wants to find out just how much drivers are willing to pay for a spot.
Right now, skiers park for free at designated spots in West Vail, and along the South Frontage Road on days that the parking garages are full.
However, under a new pilot program, the town could charge for parking.
The money would then go the state, who owns the road, to use for road and parking improvements, said Peter Kozinski of the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The state sees Vail’s parking problems as a safety issue, and wants to get it resolved, Kozinski said.
“Thankfully no one has injured themselves, but you can only imagine if someone slips on ice into the road into oncoming traffic,” he said. “Who is responsible for that? We see this as a safety situation.”
The plan to charge is in preliminary phases, and the town has hired RRC Associates, a marketing and research company, to survey how much should be charge, said Greg Hall, Vail’s public works manager.
Details as to how the parking system would work, when parking would be allowed, and what are the potential problems still need to answered, Hall said.
The plans also depend on Vail’s long-term plans for parking. Additional parking garages have been discussed for Ford Park and Ever Vail, Vail Resorts’ proposed ski village in West Lionshead.
The state has also proposed an idea that would turn the Frontage Road over to the town of Vail. The town would receive $11 million for maintenance and improvement costs over the next 10 years ” a little over a million a mile.
That $11 million includes the maintenance of the road as well as repaving.
The proposal is part of a state program to turn some of the state’s roads over to local municipalities. Other potential handovers could include turning parts of U.S. Highway 6 over to the towns of Eagle and Gypsum, Kozinski said.
The town hasn’t made a decision on the offer, Hall said, but the biggest concern is whether the town can handle almost 10 miles of additional road.
Right now the town only has 33 miles of town-owned road, he said.
Many local residents balked at the idea of Frontage Road fees.
One Edwards resident who asked not to be named, said she felt that Frontage Road charges would be especially unfair to Front Range skiers who drive up to Vail.
“You can only suck so much out of people before they say enough is enough,” she said. “You take away all the affordable options for people. There has to be something that is still free.”
Some valley residents said that when they drive to Vail, they have places to park that avoid the Frontage Road and parking garages. However, many still said they opposed charging.
Vail resident Jessica dePontbriand said she thinks the area is expensive enough. If she were driving to Vail, she’d rather park in the garage than suffer the inconvenience of parking on the road, she said.
“You weigh convenience with the price tag,” she said.
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