Although the ballot issue that would fund the construction portion of the Mason Transportation Corridor Project did not pass last November, the project is still underway. The MTC project is currently in the Environmental Assessment/Preliminary Engineering (EA/PE) phase. The project has been referred to as a “multi-modal transportation solution.” This allows bicycles, pedestrians, vehicles and trains to co-exist efficiently to avoid the problematic traffic congestion that occurs when many different forms of transportation try to function in any particular area.
“In the long-term planning of transportation for Fort Collins, it’s inevitable that (city council) has to plan for significant increases in traffic. It’s definitely a good thing for the city,” said Steve Madden, a junior construction management major.
In November of 2002, the ballot intended to fund the construction phase of the project did not pass, but this did not affect costs of the design work for the project.
According to the Fort Collins City Website, the MTC project came about after people felt a solution was needed to north-south traffic congestion problems in Fort Collins. Citizens have also voiced concern about the inconvenience of unsafe routes utilized by people traveling on bikes or even walking.
“I think it’s great that Fort Collins is living up to its reputation of being a walker-and-biker friendly city,” said Katy Hussey, a freshman applied human sciences major.
The MTC is designed to be nearly six miles long, and during the 18-month EA/PE phase of the project, there will be survey crews working from time to time in the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad right-of-way, along Mason Street and at various major intersections.
“The vision for the Mason Corridor is to use the railroad right-of-way to provide alternative transportation options parallel to College Avenue and opportunities for public and private in-fill development which is critical to the vitality of the city of Fort Collins,” said Kathleen Reavis, Mason Transportation Corridor Project Manager in a prepared statement.
The EA/PE design project has been contracted with the engineering consulting team of Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, Carter & Burgess, EDAW, PRACO and other specialty firms. The project includes a bicycle/pedestrian trail system that will link all east/west trails, and the new Fossil Creek Trail.
There is also a bus system included in the project, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service, which will move people along the stations in the corridor. The MTC project as a whole is estimated to cost $66 million, and funding for it was obtained in a variety of places.
Funding for the project’s design work and for the bicycle/pedestrian trail were not at all affected by the results of the November 2002 ballot, and the Bus Route Transit system is still being designed. However, funding is still needed for construction of the BRT system, and for some additional features of the bicycle/pedestrian trail.
The project is currently being financed by sales tax that was approved in a 1997 vote. This money covers all of the planning and design work, but the additional money needed for construction is still not founded.
Reavis said they are working with the Federal Transit Administration to get grant funding for the project. This funding would cover 60 percent of the remaining project costs, and the extra 40 percent that is needed would have to be found locally with other grants. Reavis added that they are hoping to get a ballot approved in April of 2003 that would be similar to the ballot last November.
“I think it would be a great development for the city of Fort Collins, but there is still a lot of work to go into the successful planning of a project this size,” said Colleen Young, a professor of speech communication.
Throughout the work on the MTC project, both Mason and McClelland streets will be open to vehicular traffic, and will remain open once the project is complete. A
Outbox/Calendar or What’s Next
Anyone with questions about the project to come to A Community Open House, which will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Lincoln Center, on 417 W. Magnolia St. A presentation about the project will be given at 6 p.m.