Thu May 3, 2012

Mason Street Will Take Rapid Transit to the MAX

Fort Collins residents will see the MAX Bus Rapid Transit project begin to take shape along Mason Street over the summer. KUNC’s Brian Larson spoke with Northern Colorado Business Report publisher Jeff Nuttall about the project and its future impacts along the Mason Corridor.

Larson: In all, there will be 12 stops along the bus route that stretches for five miles from downtown Fort Collins to just south of Harmony Road. Construction actually began last September with the renovation of Mason Street – but Jeff the real, noticeable work begins in July.

Nuttall: Work actually starts in June on some other portions of the project but your right, starting in July residents will see a lot of activity. That’s when Burlington Northern Santa Fe replaces its rail line between Cherry and Laurel streets. Mason Street between those cross-streets will be completely closed for a week and no trains will be running through town while this work takes place. Farther down the line, underpasses will be built, as well as a guideway for the buses, and the individual bus stops along Mason Street.

Larson:  The MAX project runs right past Colorado State University. I’m assuming that CSU students are probably going to be one of the main users of this bus line once it’s completed in 2014?

Nuttall: Very much so. One student housing developer in particular told our reporter that his company was only mildly interested in Fort Collins until they heard about the MAX project. The Commons is a 665-bed student housing project currently under construction at the intersection of Prospect and College. Capstone Development Partners, the company behind it, couldn’t be more excited about their development’s proximity to the Mason Corridor. Capstone said that the large number of students will mean more riders for the MAX system, and in turn, MAX will mean more visibility for the project, so one really helps the other.

Larson: Obviously the $87 million project was convincing for Capstone, but what about local businesses along the route?

Nuttall: Well, when Midtown Arts Center wanted to relocate in 2010, the Mason Corridor project proved to be a big draw for it as well. The arts center is located just a couple of blocks from the intersection of Horsetooth Road and Mason. According to Midtown owner Kurt Terrio, the buses should help draw patrons of the arts to see shows at the Midtown Arts Center, instead of just downtown.

Larson: That’s just one benefit – but Jeff, there’s at least a hundred or more businesses that stand to benefit from a rapid transit system for both their workers and customers.

Nuttall: One of the biggest concentrations of businesses is in the Drake Professional Park near the intersection of Drake Road and Mason Street. Employees who work there will have a much easier trip to get to and from downtown because MAX will allow them to avoid traffic congestion or having to find a spot to park. In the same area is the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Like other employees of CSU, many of the workers at the Vet Teaching Hospital are eco-conscious and so look forward to being able to take alternate transportation to and from work.

Larson: Jeff Nuttall is the publisher of the Northern Colorado Business Report.

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