Summit County officials approve short-term solutions to mitigate parking issues, safety concerns at Quandary Peak
Solutions include a pilot shuttle system and expanded parking
Last week, consultants presented 20 solutions that could help mitigate parking and safety issues at Quandary Peak and nearby trailheads. At a Summit Board of County Commissioners work session Tuesday, May 25, officials approved which short-term solutions they’d like to see implemented this year as the summer season kicks into gear.
The first measure approved is to continue discussions with stakeholders, including adding to the group a homeowners association representative who is familiar with the concerns of nearby residents.
The second measure approved is to expand the current parking lot from 65 spaces to 85 spaces. County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence suggested the parking spaces be designated to make for a more organized lot.
Another measure approved is to launch some sort of pilot shuttle system that would transport hikers to the trailhead. Many details regarding how this would operate still need to be finalized, but both Lawrence and County Commissioner Tamara Pogue agreed it should be free to users in its infant stages.
In an email, Lawrence said the county would be paying a shuttle company for the service.
“We need to work with additional partners, such as lodging companies, to make sure guests would utilize the service,” she wrote in the email.
Brian Lorch, Open Space and Trails director for Summit County, noted the shuttle solution could turn into a revenue opportunity that a private business might want to explore in the future.
“I really think in order for it to become something that a private business would want to do, you’d have to be offering more than just Quandary because Quandary is just in the range of 400 people a day that come at weird times,” Lorch said.
“I think that we are ripe for (this) in Summit County,” Lorch continued.
Though consultants laid out a robust plan to mitigate some of the overuse concerns, the board determined that some of the proposals aren’t ideal for this upcoming season, whether because they are cost prohibitive, would take too long to implement or the solution doesn’t make sense for the area.
Part of the reason the trailhead’s issues are difficult to mitigate is because of the nature of the area. The trailhead is near Colorado Highway 9, which is managed by Colorado State Patrol. Due to the popularity of trails in the area, it’s common for hikers to use the side of the highway as overflow parking, causing issues for the surrounding neighborhood and creating safety concerns.
According to Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons, the Colorado State Patrol can only tow vehicles that are impeding traffic and cannot cite vehicles, making it difficult to enforce parking in the area. FitzSimons said county deputies only have jurisdiction over county roads.
As for private homeowners, FitzSimons said deputies do not have jurisdiction over private property but that if a homeowner calls and complains about a violation, they can assist at that time. During a virtual work session meeting Tuesday, May 18, public attendees — who said they lived in the area — messaged in the Zoom chat that it was common for multiple vehicles to park in and around their driveways, sometimes even blocking them in entirely.
“I understand we’re not going to solve this problem this summer, but I also feel very strongly that we have to do something substantial to mitigate this problem, and if you all are limited in your ability to enforce, then the solution … that I’m left with is that we have to find some way to have fewer cars,” Pogue said.
To help mitigate concerns, officials also approved increased signage, including speed limit and “no parking” signs.
While county officials approved these measures, Pogue wrote in an email that there is still a lot of work to be done before most of the measures could be implemented.
“These are approved, but there are a lot of details that need to be figured out, so I would offer that the signage and parking improvements will definitely be done by this summer, but there’s quite a bit of work to do before we’ll know for sure that the shuttle will happen this summer,” Pogue said. “It is, however, the goal.”
• Develop a public/visitors communication and outreach plan
• Sponsor and manage a volunteer or summer job ambassadors program that helps direct traffic and alleviate some safety concerns
• Study and design options for expanding and managing parking in more permanent ways
• Purchase more trailhead property for parking expansion
• Increase agency-led enforcement to prohibit parking in unwanted areas
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