Breckenridge gets first look at intermodal transit center plans
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge is one step closer to building an intermodal transit center that will make it easier for skiers and other visitors to use public transportation
The town planning commission last Tuesday got its first glimpse of a master plan designed by Nore Winter, a Denver-based transportation planner. The plan depicts a skier drop-off area at the north end of Sawmill parking lot and a 3,800-square-foot transit center and skier and drop-off area north of that in the Watson parking lot. The bulk of bus traffic would access the facility from Park Avenue.
The transit center is part of a larger project to improve transit, parking and pedestrian traffic downtown and the transfer of Highway 9 from Main Street to Park Avenue.
Vail Resorts, which owns the two parking lots, has agreed to contribute 1.15 acres of land to the town to secure the state funds. The ski company plans to build a gondola adjacent to the transit center to transport skiers and boarders to Peaks 7 and 8 and to ease traffic volume on Ski Hill Road. It is likely Vail Resorts will develop the rest of the parcels in the future, as well.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is paying for the $1 million building, plaza and bus staging area. The town wants to break ground on the project quickly to avoid losing those funds to the state budget crisis.
Town Engineer Eric Guth suggested other, short-term recommendations, including adding a center turn lane to the two lanes on Watson Street, restricting Watson Street to transit and pedestrians during the winter and erecting a traffic signal at French and Main streets with a left-turn lane onto Main Street.
His long-term recommendations include placing a parking structure on the Watson parking lot and erecting a traffic signal at French Street and North Park Avenue.
Town planner Mike Mosher said much works remain before workers break ground, hopefully in July. Included on that list is a traffic study to determine how vehicles will use the center, where the gondola and parking structures will be built, what kind of signage is needed and how it will all be timed with other improvements planned for Park Avenue.
“The transit center is a great first step,” he said. “But we still need to make a lot of big decisions.”
Architects from RNL Designs of Denver have started designing the building, which will include restrooms, waiting areas, lockers, an information center and bus schedules. Breckenridge town transit director Jim Benkelman is redrafting bus schedules to coordinate town, ski area and Summit Stage buses and the town trolley. Buses are expected to arrive every 15 and 30 minutes, depending on their routes; the town trolley will arrive every seven minutes, Mosher said.
The bus dropoff and pickup areas can accommodate eight buses at one time, he added, although with some “creative driving and parking,” that could be increased to 11. Summit Stage buses will have two designated stops, the Keystone-Arapahoe Basin-Breckenridge buses will have one, and others will be available for Breckenridge Ski Resort and town buses. Controlled gates will prevent cars from mixing with buses and hotel shuttle vans, Mosher said.
“I like that it will be able to handle a large volume of buses so we can pulse at any time,” Benkelman said. Pulsing involves scheduling buses so they all arrive at a central location at the same time. “If we use the pulsing philosophy, buses will come in at the top of the hour, anyone can get off one bus and transfer to another bus to get to their final destination without having to wait around. It should streamline existing routes.”
Construction will involve pre-wiring the building for Global Positioning Systems so buses can be tracked and people can tell how long they have to wait for the next one.
“It makes the system more seamless,” Benkelman said. “That’s what we want more than anything. People need something that’s a no-brainer: “Here’s where I am, here’s where I want to go, what do I do?'”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com.
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