The Mason Corridor is a five-mile, north-south byway from Cherry Street to south of Harmony Road. It combines a bicycle and pedestrian trail with MAX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor. The Corridor will provide a framework for economic development and environmentally sustainability, which will create opportunities for new mixed-use and transit oriented developments (TOD)that avoid sprawl and enhance our community's active lifestyle.
Along with expanding transportation choices, economic development, and environmental sustainability, the Mason Corridor serves as the foundation to encourage community partnerships, private investment, active living, and attractive, urban lifestyles. The Mason Corridor is a legacy project that will connect Downtown, Colorado State University, and local business and neighborhoods throughout our community. The Mason Corridor benefits all of us - residents, property & business owners, students, and visitors - whether we are driving, cycling, walking, or riding transit.
From the City’s standpoint, it is an important legacy project. It provides opportunities for infill and economic development. Previous Visionary Legacy projects include: City Park, Lee Martinez Farm, and Old Town Square. The corridor was designed to fit the vision of the community.
The City's master planning process investigated the suitability of Mason Corridor as a component of the community. BRT is a cost effective way to provide high quality transit. Denver solutions don't fit in Fort Collins at the present time, but the designated guideway can transition to other technologies as needed. The city is land locked and is growing 1-2 percent annually, with over 144,000 people now. People will move along the corridor by choice.
Fort Collins voters approved the initial funding for the Mason Corridor in 1997 as part of the “Building Community Choices” ballot item, along with funding for a variety of other citywide capital improvement projects. The City Council approved the Mason Corridor vision plan document, including the plans for the bicycle/pedestrian trail and Bus Rapid Transit system in 2000. What wasn't approved by voters in 2002 and 2003 were two funding initiatives that included local funding for implementation of the Mason Corridor along with funding for a variety of other community-wide transportation projects. Today, the city has secured 80 percent of total project costs from the federal government; the remaining 20 percent of the project costs are being covered by the state of Colorado, City of Fort Collins, Downtown Development Authority, and Colorado State University.
The City needed a funding opportunity/commitment from the Federal Transit Administration. In addition, the local market is now ready for this project as it will spur economic development and re-development as well as address the current need to grow from within the city.
By pursuing many different funding sources for the Mason Corridor, our community is leveraging limited local dollars with State and Federal grants. In addition, the City can work with public/private partnerships to help spread the costs over many different sources. No one group will bear the project's full cost. The City received 80% of project funding from the Federal Transit Administration. The remaining 20% is available from the City of Fort Collins, Downtown Development Authority, CSU/Colorado State University Research Foundation, and Colorado Department of Transportation.
Based on the Federal and State funding, the City's local share of the Mason Corridor project is approximately $4-5 Million, which is similar in cost to rebuilding an arterial intersection. Essentially, for the price of one intersection, Fort Collins' investment will leverage enough resources to build a 5+ mile corridor that will continue to generate on-going revenue for our community for many generations.
New infill development will face the corridor. Barnes and Noble already has two front doors facing east and west. Newer structures must be designed to provide service to the Mason Corridor.
Community economic development is taken seriously. The City has two tools for the private sector along the Corridor: the Transportation Oriented Development overlay district and the Fort Collins Urban Renewal Authority’s Midtown Urban Renewal Plan Area.
The current Environmental Impact Statement examining connections between Northern Colorado communities and Denver includes two choices: (A) Commuter rail along existing tracks following US 287 and (B) BRT commencing at I-25 and the Harmony Corridor. Rail is expensive and would require a phased approach. Federal funding has not been identified for this connection, and the project is in early phases.
Federal representatives are currently reviewing cost effective strategies. The project includes important considerations as the population in Northern Colorado will continue to grow significantly over the next 20 to 30 years. The rail option (A) could be linked to the Mason Corridor at the South Transit Center, and the Bus Rapid Transit option (B) could be linked at the existing Harmony Transit Center.