The politics of parking continue to generate headlines in Vail, where a homeowners group recently suggested the town should ban overflow parking on its frontage roads during the ski season.
The roads paralleling Interstate 70 are maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation — which has made it clear such a ban is a local issue they don’t care to weigh in on. The roads provided 48 days of overflow parking for more than 14,000 cars on the edges of the road on days when the two town-owned parking garages filled up last ski season, according to The Vail Daily. The two parking garages hold 2,430 cars, and an average of 319 cars spill out onto the frontage roads on overflow days, when more than 20,000 skiers hit the slopes of Vail
Although members of the Vail Village Homeowners Association feel the move may be needed for safety reasons, they say the mere suggestion of a ban to improve the overall guest experience and to encourage skiers to use mass transit could be all that’s needed to prompt developers to build more parking garages and to rent out private spaces at a premium on the busiest days.
But some town officials say a parking ban would be economic suicide in a recession, when Vail needs to be doing all it can to welcome skiers beleaguered by soaring gas prices and a shrinking pool of discretionary dollars. Other town officials fear someone will be killed parking on the frontage roads, where several car doors have been torn off by passing motorists in the past.
Meanwhile, the homeowners association would love to see the whole problem go underground. The group in the past has pushed for burying the interstate under a massive tunnel through the length of the town and building more homes atop the new tunnel. It’s unlikely that solution will be online for next ski season.