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Warm weather precedes snowy weekend as Vail braces for more parking, transit, housing woes

March 2, 2022, 1:10 pm
Rennick Williams found some pow on Iron Mask at Vail on Sunday.

Spring seems to have sprung a little early in the Colorado Rockies, with temperatures approaching 50 Fahrenheit in Vail this week after a snowy and busy Presidents Day holiday last week.

The good news for snow riders is the balmy temps won’t last as a more typical and wintry weather pattern moves in this weekend and promises to persist into March. Let’s hope we have a real March in terms of it being our wettest month of the year.

“With the current weather feeling like full-on spring, it’s hard to fathom that winter will make a comeback in a few days, but yes, that is what will happen,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote Wednesday. “From Friday through Monday, we’ll see multiple rounds of snow with totals of 8-16 inches and a few days with soft conditions and some real powder as well. Then there should be two more storms as we head into mid-March.”

More good news for local skiing fans is Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards will be back in action this weekend after a post-Olympic break that saw her World Cup rival, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, catch up on points in the overall chase.

The two will go head to head in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, this weekend, and it should be a fun battle over the final three weeks of the World Cup season, even though most Americans have already tuned out because, well, it’s not the Olympics.

Speaking of catching up, Vail’s foot and half or so of new snow last week made for some soft, fun turns for the first time in more than a month, but the snowpack is still lagging.

Vail is at 180 inches for the season, or about 17 feet of snow so far. All of last season, we hit a paltry 200 inches, so at least we’re closing in on that very low bar. But bear in mind that Vail typically averages well over 300 inches a season, and we only have about seven weeks of snow riding left on the calendar. 

Hopefully we play a major game of catchup starting this weekend – not just for skiing but, more importantly, for water supplies and wildfire suppression.

Some more good news on the local ski front: COVID-19 numbers have dipped enough locally and nationally that Vail Resorts has dropped its indoor mask mandate for restaurants, retail spaces and gondola cars (although it’s hard to believe that last one was still in place given how unenforced it was).

Presidents Week parking was in the news after a lot of cars lined the frontage roads pretty much every day last week, but I have to say that on the hill – I went up Friday and Sunday – those parking numbers did not translate into unwieldy lift lines.

Apparently, anywhere from 300 to 600 cars per day were on the frontage roads, which is not an ideal parking situation. What’s funny about that, since I’m the institutional memory guy these days (yes, Blue Sky was billed as early-season, north-facing ski terrain), is those parking numbers are right around what Ever Vail was supposed to deliver years ago.

Remember Ever Vail, billed back in 2006 or so as the first ever LEED-certified ski area base village, with a new gondola, new DEVO parking drop-off, a hotel, workforce housing and tons more parking, both for a new hotel and shops, but also an additional 400 public parking spaces?

Don’t take my word for it: the website is still live. Of course, then came the 2008 housing collapse, brought to you by greedy bankers playing fast and loose with mortgage-back securities (see, the Big Short), and Vail Resorts wisely got out of the development game altogether.

Approval for Ever Vail has since expired and the Vail Daily recently corrected the false assertion that at least part of the land that was supposed to become Ever Vail was under contract and set to be sold.

But imagine where we’d be if at least the parking and workforce housing aspects of Ever Vail had been built (but of course the condos and hotel were meant to pay for those), and if the ski company’s other approved workforce housing project, Booth Heights, had ever turned dirt. Certainly in a better place than we are now, staffing-wise and therefore guest-service-wise.

Good to see a whole host of local entities coming together to try to form a regional transit authority that will hopefully vastly increase and improve countywide local bus service and perhaps more importantly upgrade the woeful safety situation in and around bus stops. That step is long overdue.

But the idea shouldn’t be to push all the worker housing down-valley and put in more buses. Walkable workforce housing needs to be heavily in the mix. And maybe even commuter and tourist trains in addition to buses to get people up and down valley and to and from the airport.

Because, as I’ve always said, Vail doesn’t have a parking problem, it has a car problem. And, increasing, with vehicle traffic accounting for the majority of planet-warming, ski-season-killing greenhouse gases and I-70 a godawful cluster every weekend and sometimes now on weekdays, the same can be said of Colorado and the nation as a whole. It will take vision to fix the future.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

One Response to Warm weather precedes snowy weekend as Vail braces for more parking, transit, housing woes

  1. Marv Toolain Reply

    March 3, 2022 at 8:39 am

    Ever Vail was a horrible idea. It was already too crowded here in 2008. It’s going to be a madhouse around here this month. It’s a good time to get out of here and go somewhere nice like St. Moritz or Zermatt.

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