Drivers adjusting to new Vail drop-off |

Drivers adjusting to new Vail drop-off

Sarah Mausolf
Vail Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
NWS Drop-Off Carpark DT 12-20-10

VAIL, Colorado – Lionshead has a new parking area for drivers who are dropping off skiers.

However, some drivers are still gravitating to the illegal, 15-minute delivery area near the bus loop at the main Lionshead entrance.

“I think it will definitely take some education to get the word out,” town of Vail engineer Tom Kassmel said.

For the most part, drivers who find their way into the new loading area in the Lionshead parking garage give it good reviews. On Friday morning, Breckenridge resident Deborah Zimmerman dropped off her husband for a skiing outing in Lionshead. She said the loading area is an improvement over the bus loop.

“We could park and take our time,” she said. “He could put his boots on. We didn’t feel like somebody was right behind us, waiting for us to move.”

The loading area is Vail officials’ latest attempt to coax dropoff traffic away from the bus loop, which is already clogged with buses, delivery vehicles and tons of ski-wielding pedestrians. The loading area opened full time last week. It had been open on weekends starting around Thanksgiving. Drivers can find it at street level with an entrance off East Lionshead Circle, a stone’s throw from the bus loop.

Although signs on South Frontage Road and East Lionshead Circle direct drivers to the free “passenger dropoff,” several people were not getting the message Saturday morning. A handful of drivers dropped off their passengers at the 15-minute delivery zone, prompting Vail police to give them warnings and eventually block off the area with orange cones.

Avon resident Ryan Miller, 24, had followed old habits into the 15-minute delivery zone. He said it’s a convenient stopping point on his way to the Vail Valley Medical Center, where he has parking privileges. He said he would have pulled into the new loading zone if he had known you can enter and exit at the same place on East Lionshead Circle.

“I thought I’d have to drive all the way through the Lionshead lot and drive out through the gates,” he said.

Vail Police have not been giving out tickets to people who stray into the 15-minute delivery area.

“At this point in the season, we’re still giving warnings and just trying to educate them,” Sgt. Robyn Fetterolf said.

Hope and Aaron Haase, who were on vacation in Beaver Creek, found the new loading area more convenient than the bus loop. While unloading his ski gear out of his SUV, Aaron Haase, 36, said the new dropoff zone is a good idea.

“It’s covered and you don’t have to mess around with the buses from the resorts dropping people off,” he said.

Some people were less impressed. After being directed into the loading area by Vail Police, one skier who declined to give his name concluded “It seems annoying.”

When it’s finished, the dropoff area will include 20 spaces for 30-minute loading along with nine spaces for two-hour parking, Kassmel said. It currently includes something close to that, he said. The new loading area displaced regular parking spaces in the garage, which are in high demand on busy days in this parking-strapped town. However, Greg Hall, Vail’s public works director, said people had been using regular parking spaces for dropping people off anyway. The new loading area is a better set-up because it remains open, even when the parking garage fills up and closes, he said. No matter where you park in the Lionshead lot, the first two hours of parking are free.

Lionshead always had an area for short-term “shopper” parking, but Hall said nobody could find it. The spaces had been located on the parking garage’s middle level, with an entrance on the east side. They have since been turned into regular parking spaces.

Building the new dropoff area cost the town about $800,000, Kassmel said. The loading zone is part of a larger project to replace the auxiliary Subway building with a Lionshead transit center. Funding for the dropoff area came from tax increment financing dollars from the Lionshead improvement district and federal transit money, Kassmel said.

Several new signs directing traffic into the passenger dropoff are set to arrive next month, he said.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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