College Avenue is the main artery of Fort Collins, but on Friday and Saturday nights the flow is diverted onto nearby streets in order to prevent crime.
Cruising the streets has been a favorite pastime in American college towns since the 1960s. Fort Collins is no exception to that rule. Cruising started to become a problem for the city, however, as the population increased, said Rita Davis, spokesperson for Fort Collins Police Services.
“Drivers making repeated trips up and down College Avenue caused major traffic congestion and a conflict of activities. Around 1988 this started to be a real problem,” Davis said.
The congestion on College also led to escalating crime in Old Town. There was a great deal of underage drinking, assaults and harassment. The hot spot was even starting to draw gang members from surrounding communities, Davis said.
In the early 1990s, the problem became so bad that community members refused to go to Old Town on Friday and Saturday nights.
Citizens and Old Town businesses demanded something be done about the problem, Davis said. The Cruising Diversion Project was implemented in the early 1990s.
Ever since this project has been put into place, College has been closed from Olive Street to LaPorte Street beginning at 9 p.m. and then reopening again at 1:30 a.m. Traffic is diverted to Howes and Mason streets.
The CDP has solved the problem of weekend cruising in downtown, Davis said. However, some see a potential problem with diverting traffic to other streets.
Julie Poswalk, a junior liberal arts social sciences major, said, “(The CDP) seems to aid in cruising, but traffic is diverted to other streets and forces cops to disperse, whereas it might be easier to enforce crime if students were in one place.”
“On the other hand, if students are spread out its possible they won’t cause as much trouble,” Poswalk said.
Downtown businesses also see both the benefits and negative aspects to reduced traffic in old town.
“(The CDP) could have negative effects (for business) because there is less drive by traffic, but for guests already here there isn’t as much traffic and noise.” said Joe Schrader, manager of Old Chicago. “People like to just walk around Old Town at night and so less traffic is good for that.”
Local Issues and Politics Bug
Weekend street closure on College by Kelly Gillen 9/23/02