In 2000, Fort Collins City Council approved the master plan for the Mason
Corridor, a five-mile transportation byway within the city that will run parallel to College Avenue.
Now, a decade later, the project is in its final design phase and is slated to begin operations in 2013.
The byway will stretch north to south from Cherry Street to Harmony Road, providing bike paths and a Bus Rapid Transit system called MAX (Mason Express)
that runs for most of the corridor.
The MAX system will run on a fixed guideway, operate almost twice as fast as average automobile traffic and offer service every 10 minutes. MAX will feature large windows, seating, handrails, on-board bicycle storage and, unlike light-rail transit systems, will use rubber-tired vehicles.
â€œThe bus rapid transit is a cost effective way to provide high quality transit compared to light rail,â€ said Erika Keeton, a special projects engineer for the city of Fort Collins. â€œThe designated guideway can transition to other technologies in the future if necessary.â€œ
MAXâ€™s guideway, which will run parallel to the Burlington Norther Santa Fe Railroad between the South Transit Center and University Avenue, wonâ€™t be affected by traffic or accidents and will stay consistently fast and reliable.
â€œItâ€™s going to connect the community through a system that is going to build and encourage a culture that will encourage alternative transportation,â€ said Holly Reynerson, a marketing analyst for the cityâ€™s Planning, Development and Transportation Department. â€œIt should also relieve congestion on the roads, and it will be great for cyclists.â€
The project is funded by the Federal Transit Authority, Coloradoâ€™s SB-1 transit program, the Downtown Development Authority and contributions from the city of Fort Collins. It is too soon for the city to know the projectâ€™s exact cost.
The new transit system will allow easy access to downtown Fort Collins, CSU, the Foothills Mall and retail stores on South College Avenue.
The Corridor is also expected to be linked to any additional transit connections in the future.
According to the cityâ€™s website, during the final design phase some changes have been seen in the following areas: the BRT guideway, structures, drainage, railroad and utility coordination, traffic engineering, station layout and architecture, management information system infrastructure and fare collection.
According to the cityâ€™s website, a model from Hanover, Germany is being used in the design of MAXâ€™s transit stations, which will be â€œattractive, inviting, functional and safe. â€ The stations will have center and side platforms which will accomodate north and south-bound travellers.
Each station will have bus-arrival information, ticket machines and fare-collection machines.
â€œItâ€™s going to be great for students if they donâ€™t have a car,â€ Reynerson said of the new system. â€œIt will allow people to get around town.â€
City Council Beat Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at email@example.com.