The very goals of the community
are at risk of being lost if the expansion projected takes place. Importantly, the expansion will bring
environmental deterioration, which if allowed to occur, will degrade the
community’s economic sustainability beyond repair.
A possible solution is to
reclaim the land (550 acres) currently occupied by Interstate 70 by relocating
the interstate in a bypass tunnel under Vail Mountain or burying it in its
present located. The vision is to
reclaim the community, making it whole, joining divided neighborhoods together
and opening opportunities for a quantum leap into a future bright with the
prospect of societal and economic success.
This land, if put to good use by the community, would result in the
fulfillment of a “grand vision” unseen in any other resort community, making
Vail the most desired and respected of all.
This report considers two
options, the first of which is relocating the interstate to a bypass tunnel, in
which an expanded I-70 would be constructed under Vail Mountain, from a point on
the west side of Vail Pass to Dowd Junction.
The second option is to bury I-70 in a “cut & cover” tunnel within
the interstate right-of-way through Vail. Mass transit systems discussed in the
PEIS and other studies could be a component in either of the tunnel
options. The construction and on-going
operation of either option is proposed to be fully or significantly financed by
opening the land formerly occupied by I-70 to private development.
Preliminary studies conducted
by qualified consultants construction costs for the by-pass at $3.05 billion
and the cut & cover at $3.46 billion. These costs do not include local
infrastructure improvement cost that would be required to support development
on the abandoned right-of-way
Studies remain to be conducted
on alternative financing sources including how much private development will be
required to finance tunnel construction.
In any scenario, to realize such a vision, the community must consider
seriously a reality, which to save itself, it must grow exponentially. The potential to plan the future development
of the community upon a strategy of long-term growth opens the possibility for
Vail to move beyond many of the limitations under which it now labors.
The rerouting of I-70 would
allow Vail new land on which to build needed community facilities, affordable
housing, and expand facilities for the destination guest. Sites for many community needs are even now
limited in size and availability. The
Interstate 70 right-of-way is 550 acres.
A minimum 150-foot right-of-way on average would need to be retained for
a central boulevard and mass transit corridor.
Development could occur over the right-of-way using cut & cover
value of Vail, as a financial investment and as a resort community, is totally
dependent upon sustaining the quality of its natural environment and the
enhancement of lifestyle assets, which the resort provides to the community’s
inhabitants and guests. A dilemma is
created when lifestyle and environmental assets are in conflict with the
detrimental impacts from infrastructure that serves the resort or region such
as a freeway, mass transportation or parking facilities. The Association, in a study of European ski
resorts communities found evidence that leading resorts, confronted with the
same dilemma, found permanent solutions, which protect the environment and
culture of the entire community, to the benefit all inhabitants. The solutions applied advanced highway
construction techniques to build bypasses for expressway traffic; others
employed progressive mass transportation with park and ride technology to
reduce reliance on automobile access all together.
View East: - I-70, Vail Village and
Photographer: Joe Kracum
The community, if its success
is to flourish, must rise to the challenge presented by I-70. It must apply its full resources to shaping
the will of both the Federal and State government to solutions that the
community believes is in its best interest.
It will require innovation of design and financing, employing the considerable
wealth of the community, to create an entrepreneurial approach that breaks with
tradition of financing public projects. Vail is one of the few communities in
the nation that can bring to bear both its financial and human resources to
accomplish in the United States what have become acceptable practices in
Europe. Vail as a community is now in a
race against time whereby it must develop a long-term vision, plans and
strategies. Vail must set about determining its future on its own terms.
The scale of the undertaking
requires a compelling vision of the community’s future that is enduring for
generations to come. The vision must
offer possibilities to better the quality-of-life for the community as a whole
and the personal lives of each individual.
It must stir the imagination and will of the community to seek out
leaders who will carry the vision forward through its technical complexities
and political challenges. The vision
must be compelling so that each generation of leadership commits to sustaining
its continuity and progress. To build
an enduring allegiance, the vision itself must emerge from the will and values
of the community’s members and its leadership.
They must be the architects of the vision. Leadership must come from the community-at-large. These leaders must bring to government
officials, be they local or beyond, constructive proposals that motivate
The Vail community has thus far
successfully navigated the considerable challenge of reinventing itself. It is learning the lessons necessary to
confront greater challenges ahead. It
is steadily mastering the skills to guide the allocation of significant sums of
investment capital. It has demonstrated
the ability to manage the design and construction of complex redevelopment
projects. There are thoughtful people
who believe, Vail is fully capable of sustaining itself through the relocation
and removal of the interstate, attaining in the process transformation to
world-class stature. They point to the
scope and value of the massive $1 billion redevelopment currently underway in
Vail’s resort town center. They see the
possibilities of achieving such an undertaking in the forecast of burgeoning
worldwide lifestyle demand for quality cosmopolitan resort communities.
Significant additional study is
required and warranted. The long-range
concept of removing or burying the interstate should be diligently pursued so
the community’s options are not lost by its own inaction. More in-depth geotechnical studies on tunnel
construction and cost estimating need to be accomplished to generate a
manageable range of expected tunneling costs. Interim cost effective solutions
should be sought and implemented to mitigate sources of environmental pollution
caused by the interstate. Capital
improvement projects should be identified and accomplished permitting the
eventual elimination of the interstate.
I-70 is the bane of Vail’s
The interstate highway is
Vail’s most potent source of environmental deterioration. Its continued presence threatens to
undermine the long-term potential of the entire community. Currently, the highway is the primary cause
of chronic noise, visual and water pollution.
It dominates the landscape and cleaves the community in half. The desirability of being outdoors in Vail
will deteriorate; by 2025 daily traffic is expected to almost double and noise
levels will increase by 50% or more.
Town of Vail reports and mapping regarding I-70 noise mitigation.
The initial stage of the
redevelopment of Vail has demonstrated that master planning can be used to
overcome long-standing impediments to improving the quality-of-life and
destination resort experience in Vail Village and Lionshead (Resort Town
Center). Impediments like the noise,
unsightliness and damage to streetscape improvements from on-street truck
loading and deliveries. Likewise, Vail
must have a long-term strategy and plan to overcome the deterioration that I-70
now threatens. To do nothing will
resign the community to a steady erosion of its environment assets, its
lifestyle, quality-of-life and ultimately property values, which could lead to
its financial downfall.
Proximity was, at one time, the
unequivocal value the interstate highway brought to the community, but no
longer. The interstate showcased the
community in its early years to millions of passing motorists. It gave ease of access to Front Range skiers
and part-time homeowners. Now, Vail is
well known and its natural environment has become more important than its
exposure to uninformed tourists. Motorist
increasingly must compete with each other as well as with escalating truck traffic
along the length of I-70 from Denver to Glenwood Springs.
The Town of Vail has recently
completed a two-year long evaluation of remedies to the noise pollution
generated by interstate highway traffic.
While there are some approaches that could reduce noise levels, the
impact over the long-term will be negligible.
Even then, these minimal short-term effects will only apply to limited
areas of certain neighborhoods. None of the studied options, over the long-term,
will reduce or eliminate noise pollution from any particular neighborhood or
the community in its entirety.
solutions offered in the PEIS by the Colorado Department of Transportation
(CDOT) offer transportation solutions through Vail, but do not necessarily
address a long-term vision for the community of Vail. There is no evidence that CDOT will unilaterally bring forward
any far-reaching rapid mass transit solutions that are compatible with the
long-term interest of the community, until Vail itself defines and advocates
its interest. Those interests being the
preservation and enhancement of the community’s fabric, its way-of-life,
natural environment and economic well-being.
threat from I-70 is escalating and impending.
A planning effort by the Colorado Department of Highway (CDOT) concludes
that the Interstate 70, west from Denver to a point well beyond Vail, must be
expanded to accommodate six travel lanes and an additional two lanes for a
possible rapid mass transit system. The
department is taking its first steps to implement the planned expansion. Construction of the $4 billion in programmed
improvements is projected to occur over the next twenty years.
The current CDOT PEIS details
and expanding the interstate to six lanes from the West Vail Interchange to the
Eagle-Vail Interchange with the possible option of a double bore six-lane
tunnel that will bypass landslide hazards at Dowd Junction. The expansion to six-lanes between the East
and West Vail interchanges, while currently not under consideration, cannot be
dismissed from happening beyond the planning window of 2025.
Vail’s frontage roads running
parallel on either side of the interstate are inadequate. As redevelopment occurs they are being
widened to accommodate additional thru and turn lanes, on-street overflow
parking, sidewalks, bike paths and landscaping. Conceivably, if in the far future expansion plans are carried
through, in some areas between the Main and West Vail interchanges there could
be eighteen lanes of traffic where there are now eight to ten.
The Town of Vail has had some
success in reducing noise pollution by increased enforcement of speed
limits. State transportation
authorities, because of the requirements of their evaluation criteria, believe
they cannot lower the interstate speed limit through Vail, even though the Town
Council has exerted considerable political effort towards this objective.
The building of barriers, such
as berms and European style sound barrier walls, will only improve conditions
in a few isolated locations. As the
result of a neighborhood property owner association and Town of Vail effort,
which is supported by the Homeowners Association, a berm is being built to
shield the Bald Mountain Road neighborhood in East Vail reducing highway
noise. However, throughout the
community there are limited locations where berms of adequate height can be
Residential properties located
along the steeper slopes of the valley will receive minimal benefit from berms
or sound walls. State transportation
authorities have eliminated program funding extensive sound walls through the
community. Even to have limited effect,
studies report the sound walls would have to be nearly 20 feet high. Many believe that these partial solutions,
particularly sound walls, are unacceptable to the community.
As interstate traffic volume
grows over the coming decades the din is expected to increase. Taller buildings located along the
interstate partially shield areas of the resort Town Center. However, residential units which front the
interstate in these buildings and elsewhere throughout the community, as noise
pollution increases will have diminished desirability in comparison with those
that are protected from highway noise.
Increasingly, expansion of the
frontage roads will come into conflict with proposals for the expansion of the
interstate further dividing the community physically. It is not an uncommon sight to see employees running across the
interstate from their housing on one side to their job or recreational activity
on the other.
Desirability, Environment, and
Property Values Affected:
is today, the largest resort community of its kind in the world bisected by an
interstate highway. It can be
predicted that as adverse impacts from the interstate worsen, a decline in
desirability and property values of the community’s affected areas will
inevitably follow. Its edge will be
lessened in its competition with other resorts.
The options available, which
propose a continued cohabitation with the interstate, are bleak and at best
short-lived, when measured against a predictable decline in the community’s
quality-of-life and economic value.
There is no commitment required of CDOT or Federal highway authorities
to ensure the continued success of Vail’s quality of life, economy,
health of its natural environment. The
community must fight skillfully and hard to protect its own interests.
Road sand, used to improve vehicle
traction on Vail Pass during the winter months, has migrated into nearby Black
Gore Creek, a tributary of Gore Creek.
The headwaters of Gore Creek are where a significant portion of Vail’s
water supply is collected. Hundreds of
thousand of tons of sand are migrating down Black Gore, smothering the native
aquatic water life in its path. Efforts
have been underway for nearly a decade to stem the flow and remove the sand
sludge. Drifts of sand, several feet
thick, flow from the interstate storm drain outlets
I-70 Road Sand Siltation – Black Gore Creek:
hundreds of feet downhill before spilling into Black
Gore Creek. CDOT has been tied financially to its response to clean up and
stem the pollution.
The United States Forest Service
controls the Federal public land on which the pollution is occurring. The Forest Service continues to push, both
the Federal and State transportation authorities to accelerate the
cleanup. Some water quality activists
involved with the politics of the issue believe that, without congressional
intervention, transportation authorities will apply less than their full effort
to the cleanup and prevention plan because the polluted areas are located
outside of the CDOT transportation corridor.
Vail’s challenges are in many
respects shared by all communities confronted with the proposed expansion of
I-70. There is a common thread among
these communities’ vigorous objection to the negative consequences being
proposed. For the most part, the plan
put forth by CDOT is criticized as inappropriate because of the plan’s
dependence upon out-dated technology and solutions. There is much to be gained by Vail seeking qualitative solutions
both for itself and its neighbors along the I-70 mountain corridor.
See to Vail Daily
letter to Editor from I-70 coalition member regarding Frustration with I-70
Long-range planning concepts: The Association recognizes that any remedial solutions to
noise pollution through Vail may well prove, over the long-term, to be
inadequate. The level of responsiveness
to both water and noise pollution issues outside the transportation corridor
are indicative of attitudes from transportation authorities towards local
concerns. The longer these problems
remains unresolved, the faster property values will decline, reinvestment in
property will be discouraged, and the local population will become resigned to
the mediocrity that accompanies deterioration.
Consequently, the Association and the community must now give serious
consideration to solutions that permanently remove Interstate 70 from the
The Association embarked on an
effort to investigate strategies and methods to accomplish the removal or
burial of I-70. The purpose of the
investigations is to determine if the community and the Town of Vail to plan
should begin a coordinated approach to the planned expansion of Interstate 70,
so that its negative influences are eliminated once the expansion is completed.
Two concepts, with variations, are
being studied. The first would propose
relocating I-70 via a “bypass tunnel”
under Vail Mountain. The second
proposal would include burying the interstate in concrete structures, within
the existing right-of-way through Vail, using a construction technique known as
“cut & cover.”
Each of these approaches is
extraordinarily costly and complex in scope.
They are well beyond the ability or willingness of any single
governmental agency to fund.
Consequently, each approach must be evaluated within financial
parameters that assume they are fully or significantly financed through the
Financing the bypass tunnel, in
theory, could be accomplished by selling development rights generated from the
sale of the interstate right-of-way to private developers. The cut & cover method would be financed
through the sale of “air-rights” to developers. The cut & cover concept
reconstructs the interstate in its existing right-of-way, covering it with a
concrete lid on which private developments are constructed. In other words, there could be development
of several different kinds on top of the buried interstate.
Vail has had a stressful
relationship with Interstate 70 from the founding of the community in the early
1960’s. The prospect of the 1976
Winter Olympics and in the design process for the Vail Pass segment of the
interstate, varying forms of both the tunnel and cut & cover concepts were given
passing consideration. Urban planners
and developers have raised the “cut & cover” issue over the years. A serious proposal by a reputable developer
was made in the early 1990’s. Each in
their turn was rejected because of various impediments, the most overwhelming
being financial or regulatory. Federal
authorities have since adopted policies that provide for the long term-leasing
development air rights.
The United States has seen neither
concept gain a strong foothold. Seattle
and Phoenix have examples of cut & cover built over interstate highways in
their central business districts.
Boston is a notorious example of uncontrollable cost overruns of a
complicated interstate project that included tunnel, bridge, and cut &
Cut & Cover Project - Northern Italy:
In Europe, both the tunnel and cut
& cover concepts are highly advanced.
The have been used throughout the region of the Alps. Cut & cover techniques are frequently used
in avalanche prone areas. There are
being used more frequently for highway bypasses in developed communities. Tunnel building technology is well advanced
as well with the longest being over 20 miles.
There are numerous examples of bypass tunnels being built under
communities to preserve their character.
European advances in construction technology have not immunized some
projects from costly budget overruns.
The success of any project of the
scale being considered for Vail is dependent upon having sufficient lead-time
and access to highly qualified specialists to evaluate its feasibility and
design the proposal. Advance planning,
experienced construction management and the use of advanced construction
technologies are critical to completing large-scale projects on schedule and
within budget. The planning and
construction of either Vail proposal could require the better part of a decade
to execute. Motivating and maneuvering
through the required political and financing processes could as well take a
decade or longer. Nothing will happen until there is a commitment from the Vail
community to begin at the beginning and pursue the concepts to their logical
The Glenwood Canyon project at
first seemed overwhelmingly difficult and almost impossible to imagine as ever
becoming reality. We now see there have
been tremendous benefits from this project in many different aspects,
notwithstanding its heavy financial costs.
Vail and the surrounding region
are gaining the necessary experience and resources, because of its
redevelopment and growth potential, to manage the construction of a project on
a scale required to carry out either the tunnel or cut & cover
concept. The logistics of housing and
providing for a large construction work force are potentially on a similar
scale. Vail’s asset values, both
existing and projected, are commensurate with communities many times its size,
as measured by population and land area.
Its property owners have access to major national and international
financial markets. Vail through it
redevelopment is in the process of demonstrating its durability as a resort
community that can attract and hold successive generations of investors, thus breaking the maturation process, the
pitfalls of which are more typical of resort communities than not.
Central to pursuing either concept
is to weigh each proposal against a “do nothing” strategy. There is an influence, no matter which
approach is chosen, upon the economy and property values. The consequences and trade offs of each must
be thoroughly analyzed and understood.
Community acceptance will turn on whether an enduring general consensus
arises from a debate over a choice between a rewarding long-term vision and
maintaining a status quo of decline.
The challenge is to define a financially feasible plan for new
development that supplements rather than disassembles the existing fabric of
the community. The earlier this debate
is resolved, the sooner Vail will be able to fend off speculation about the
possibility of an inexorable devaluation in its property and lifestyle because
it has chosen to do nothing.
Already considered in CDOT’s PEIS
is a short tunnel that would bypass the Dowd Junction Interchange. The $300
million tunnel project is being proposed as a bypass diverting the interstate
around a large landslide area at the Dowd Junction interchange.
Tunnel Alignment Under Vail Mountain – Vail Pass, Dowd
Junction, Eagle Vail:
In preliminary studies, the concept for a bypass
tunnel under Vail Mountain appears to be a more efficient construction option
than the “cut & cover” method according to initial investigations. This conclusion is reached because tunnel
construction is the least disruptive to the community and surrounding
region. However, it has the greatest
financial risk because of a higher probability of encountering cost inflating
unpredictable geologic conditions during construction.
The Vail Mountain bypass tunnel
can be built without interrupting the operation of the interstate. Tunnel muck could be removed directly from
the construction site by railroad, eliminating any need to compound highway
traffic throughout the surrounding area.
Once the tunnel is opened to
traffic, the existing 1-70 right-of-way can be abandoned and its redevelopment
begun. The development of the abandoned right-of-way can proceed in
stages. The disruption to the community
to redevelop the abandoned right-of-way will be less than the “cut & cover”
method, because the complexity of construction will be substantially
A prospective disadvantage is the
lag-time for developers to see a return on their investment as they would be
required to pay “up front” for the cost of the tunnel construction. A funding mechanism may be necessary whereby
third party financing could carry the cost of tunnel construction until private
development begins to generate revenues to cover debt repayment, operational,
and maintenance costs. The preliminary
rough cost of construction, $3.05 billion, is less predictable for tunnels,
which will further complicate project financing. The financing mechanisms
needed to provide the significant up-front funds, burdened by a long- range pay
back, will need to be unique and the investment is not without risks.
Importantly, the bypass benefits
the entire community equitably because all transcontinental traffic would be
diverted around the community. It is
doubtful that any proposal, which fails to benefit the entire community to the
same degree, would be favorably supported.
Cut & Cover Alignment Through Vail –
East Vail Interchange to Dowd Junction:
The I-70 bypass tunnel will give Vail the greatest
control to shape its own destiny. There
are many new and varied possibilities to be envisioned and included in a
long-range plan. Once the plan is
conceived, progress need not wait on the completion of the bypass. Decisions can begin immediately leading to
the development of critical supporting elements, e.g. water supplies, which are
a prerequisite to the plan’s ultimate success.
Destination traffic would access
Vail by two new interchanges located at the east and west portals of the
tunnel. One would be located on Vail
Pass and the other west of Vail, situated north of the Eagle River near
I-70 through Vail would be
replaced with a four lane central boulevard having roundabouts at strategic
intersections. Portions of the existing
South and North Frontage Roads can be linked becoming the central boulevard.
The long planned Simba Run underpass in one of its configuration (estimated $15
million), once built, could establish the central boulevard from Ford Park to
the West Vail shopping complex, now being planned as the Community Town
The creation of the major arterial
is taking place now and will emerge over time in conjunction with private
redevelopment. Elements are already
programmed for construction as part of the redevelopment of the Resort Town
Center, Vail Village and Lionshead.
Failure of the conference center vote, however delayed one-third of the
initial work. When completed, the
central boulevard will directly link the Resort and Community Town
The “cut & cover” method is
more costly, $3.46 billion, because it must be staged so the interstate and
Frontage Roads remain open to traffic.
Construction will be disruptive both for the interstate and the
community. One advantage of the “cut
& cover” concept is that it can be built in stages, over a longer period of
time. Staging allows a more immediate
return on investment for a developer and there is the possibility of multiple
developers. However, security and
environmental issues will remain once the project is completed. These issues will affect what can be built
over the interstate, potentially negatively limiting return of investment and
developer interest. There will be
areas where covering the interstate cannot be justified. There may be “noise leakage” into the
community because of requirements for ventilation and related factors. Accordingly, there may be areas of the
community which do not benefit, because the benefit to property values is less
than the cost of the construction or the length of time to bring the project to
completion is too long, thereby creating a fatal political flaw for the
Carrying out a long-range plan in
strategic phases allows the community to take advantage of opportunities as
they arise by having successive projects build upon each other. Also, it gives the Town a better guide in
prioritizing its capital expenditures.
There may be secondary advantages, as the Town would not have to finance
the expansion of both the North and South Frontage Roads through their
entirety, saving valuable land and financial resources. Completing the central
boulevard over the next decade, for example, would free large areas of the
existing I-70 right-of-way for development, immediately upon the completion of
the bypass tunnel, whenever it is built.
This strategy could shrink the lag-time for developers and financiers to
maximize their return on investment.
The efficiency of the existing bus
mass transit system could also be improved, as bus routes could be shortened
and passenger capacities increased. The
central boulevard could be upgraded to adapt to advances in automated bus
technology. Right-of-way for some
advanced form of rapid mass transit could be preserved. The rapid mass transit system should be
phased and built in conjunction with new development. The development planning
should follow the mix transit oriented model used throughout the world.
The Zermatt commuter train
system can be adapted to Vail using a form of quiet (electric) guide way or
rail mass transit. The central
boulevard can include width for a surface or buried, single or double track
guide way that compliments the resulting development and interconnects at Dowd
Junction with the existing Union Pacific rail line. There would be stations
along the route giving access to each major neighborhood and Town Centers. The west
portal interchange should be the site for the main mass transit station to
access Vail. The mass transit station
would be a point-of-transfer from the Eagle Valley mass transit system that
could run between Minturn and the Eagle County Airport. If and when an advanced technology system is
build between Denver and Vail the two systems can be merged.
The use of a rail mass transit
system may not be necessary until ridership demands otherwise. The same concept of controlled access can
also be accomplished using on-road bus technology. Advancement in guide-by-wire
and other advances in computer guiding technology may allow electric powered
(quiet) buses to run in train configuration (platooning). Transit stations would occur, as with the
rail system, at major neighborhoods and Town Centers. The advantage of the on-road approach is that it could be more
economical to construct and operate.
The west portal interchange links the bypass tunnel to the present
I-70 alignment at Eagle-Vail and gives access back to the existing Dowd
Junction interchange where the junction between the central boulevard and
Highway 24 occurs. At this junction the
west access point to the central boulevard would be located.
The importance of the Eagle County
Airport to the future of Vail cannot be overstated. Every effort must be put to expanding service and upgrading
facilities for both public and private aircraft. A complete assessment of the airport limitations and
opportunities should be included in long-range master planning efforts for
Vail. Any limitation on service could
adversely affect Vail.
Today, I-70 and the frontage
roads, form an impassible barrier dividing the entire community. This barrier can be removed once the
interstate is removed. Neighborhood
access roads can then be interconnected with the central boulevard in
conjunction with the development. The consolidated roadway system creates the
opportunity for each neighborhood to be served by a more efficient and
convenient mass transit system.
New development built on the
abandoned right-of-ways can join together neighborhoods that are now physically
divided. The social fabric of the
community would be strengthened. New
development can be used to balance the “social equity” of the community by creating
opportunities for affordable housing, and commercial uses needed to improve the
community’s economic competitiveness, such as hotels and offices. Sites for new neighborhood and major
community amenities would also become available.
The option to control access into
the community creates opportunities to charge visitors an access fee. Revenues collected from the fee could be
used to defray the costs of the tunnel.
Emergency situations, such as the blocking of the bypass tunnel, can be
readily resolved by rerouting traffic onto the central boulevard. The boulevard can easily be converted to
unrestricted access, the advantage being that speed limits can be set according
to community standards, rather than according to State or Federal requirements
as they are today. Managing access into the community creates the possibility
of generating revenues to defray the cost of operating the tunnel through the
charging of access fees or limiting visitor vehicles altogether. It provides
the option for the community to emulate the European mountain resort of
Zermatt. Visitors must access Zermatt
by mass transit, leaving their vehicles in a large parking structure attached
to a mass transit terminal in the valley below. Local residents can access the community by private vehicle,
providing they have a parking space.
Zermatt benefits in several ways
because of its unique transportation systems; there is an aura of exclusivity,
mystique and cachet created by accessing the community via mass transit. There is a heighten sense of personal
security; there is the feeling of safe sanctuary. These factors create economic benefits. As well, there are other less tangible benefits to the community,
such as protecting the ancient agrarian culture of local villagers. Many
villagers still keep their goatherds in small antique barns tucked in among the
chic pensions and condominiums complexes of the resort.
In Zermatt, there is not the sense
that the community lives in self-imposed isolation, locked away from the outside
world behind closed gates. Anyone can
access the community. There are
analogies for Vail to consider, such as how to preserve its working
middle-class (agrarian villagers), in Zermatt and elsewhere in other resort
communities in Europe and throughout the world.
Creating a bypass for
transcontinental truck traffic virtually eliminates the ever-present threat
from toxic spills. There have been
spills over the years that have temporarily polluted the environment.
The cut & cover would not be able
to generate revenues from access fees as the interstate system prohibits the
collection of tolls, except on improvements that provide for new capacity, such
as HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles) lanes.
As well, the degree of security protection is lessened because there is
vulnerability to catastrophic accidents or terrorism.
The long-range planning for Vail
and its immediate region should make the assumption that infrastructure
improvement should have the capability of Vail co-hosting the Winter Olympics. Should this eventuality ever occur, there
may be financial and other resources available that would allow the building of
some facilities to be advanced so that their availability would coincide with
the hosting of these events. The timing
of critical projects would therefore be subject to adjustment.
Next Steps: The density of
development required on the abandoned right-of-way should be considerable. It
may double the current size of the community.
However, if other sources of revenue become available, then density
could be reduced. The community must
come to terms with the prospect of having to embrace considerable growth to
save itself. The study of the amount of
new development necessary to finance the plan is central to the pursuit of the
proposition. Beyond the development
options, additional research is necessary to determine the effect upon the
community’s economy during and after completion of the project. Study will be required to determine if
controlled access can bring additional economic benefit. The initial overall feasibility should
address the risks of either pursuing the proposition or not from the point of
view of financial and technical considerations, as well as from the perspective
of community sustainability and values.
Pursuing the result of these
considerations is paramount to more thoroughly understanding all the
interrelated issues of such a complex endeavor.
State and Federal officials,
particularly their finance committees, will need ample evidence that the project
has merit, before they will be willing to invest their support and time in the
necessary technical and engineering investigation to substantiate that the
project should, in fact, be built.
Considerable lobbying both at the State and National capital will be
required as in all likelihood legislative action may become necessary.
The proposal to remove or bury
I-70 should be diligently pursued. The
requisite studies should be carried out, so that the community is prepared to
evaluate the merits and provide constructive alternatives to any proposal
presented to it by CDOT. Furthermore,
planning and design studies should be conducted that provide guidance to the
community for the prioritization and completion of improvements to the Frontage
Road system. These efforts should
anticipate the eventual removal or burying of I-70 through the community.
If it is decided, after continued
study, the project is feasible and right for the community of Vail, it will
take unwavering commitment, unanimous support and steadfast leadership to see
it through to the end.