Aug 192007
 
Authors: Ricki Dugdale

The City of Fort Collins is investing $72 million to expand existing trails and to overhaul its bus system, a project the city says-once complete/-will operate similarly to Denver’s 16th Street Mall and ultimately be useful to CSU students.

Compared to many larger cities, Fort Collins may be lacking in public transportation, but now the city is attempting to update and provide what has so far been absent.

The Mason Transportation Corridor (MTC) project includes the planning and construction of a new transit system that will combine bicycle, pedestrian and bus transportation. The new transit will stretch from Cherry Street to south of Harmony Road, running parallel to the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks.

“The goal is to make transit as quick and convenient for people as possible,” senior transportation planner, Kathleen Bracke, said.

With an established bike/pedestrian trail system already in place, the city has finished an extension of the Spring Creek trail that now connects it to the Fossil Creek trail to the south of Harmony Road.

“Extending the trails will make it easier for bikers to utilize the new transit system,” Bracke said.

The northern extension, connecting the Spring Creek trail to the CSU campus, has just been funded by federal grants. By next fall, a continuous trail will run from campus to south of Harmony Road, giving students an easier and faster way to get to campus on their bikes.

The project plans also include a design for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that will connect existing bus routes to the Mason Corridor.

“There needs to be more options,” said Fort Collins resident Katie Massirio, 27. “The buses don’t go enough places.”

North of campus, the transit will converge with vehicular traffic on Mason Street, which will be transformed into a two-way road.

“Making Mason a two-way street will make it easier for transit,” Bracke said. “Both northbound and southbound traffic can run on the same street.”

A link between the CSU transit system and the Mason Corridor is on the project’s agenda as well.

“CSU is the heart of this system,” Bracke said. “It acts as a great connection south to Harmony and north to the bus depot.”

Having this link will allow students, especially those who live far from campus, a more convenient type of transportation to get to and from campus.

“If the buses run out to Harmony that would be great for what I need,” said senior art major Mike Collier, who lives near Harmony Road and Shields Street.

The improved transportation also creates the opportunity for Transit Oriented Development (TOD), which generates development within the city around station areas in the corridor, rather than developing the outskirts of the city.

Similar to the bus transit on Denver’s 16th Street Mall, the BRT will provide Fort Collins a more convenient, extensive type of transportation.

The project is expected to be complete and operational by the end of 2010, and with federal and state grants helping fund much of the project, the Mason Corridor will cost the city very little money, Bracke said.

For more information visit fcgov.com/transportationplanning/mason.php.

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