U.S. DOT grants $54.5M for new bus rapid transit line in Ft. Collins, CO

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on May 21 announced a $54.5 million funding agreement with Fort Collins for a new MAX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line expected to reduce commuting times and traffic congestion along College Avenue, and spur economic development in the heart of the Mason Corridor.  Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff joined local officials in signing the agreement.

“The Obama Administration is committed to bringing more good transportation choices to cities like Fort Collins so that hard-working families, students and seniors have affordable access to jobs, school, medical appointments and all the city’s downtown attractions,” LaHood said in a press statement. “This MAX BRT service is an excellent investment in Fort Collins’ future economic growth and sustainability.”

The Mason Corridor is a five-mile, north-south byway from Cherry Street to south of Harmony Road. It combines the MAX BRT corridor with a bicycle and pedestrian trail. The Corridor will help create opportunities for new mixed-use and transit oriented developments that avoid sprawl and enhance sustainability and livability.  Nearly two-thirds of area jobs are located within a half-mile of the corridor, which includes Colorado State University and its veterinary teaching hospital, the federal Natural Resource Research Laboratory Headquarters, and local government offices.

“This is a great example of modern bus rapid transit done right, offering thousands of riders a convenient, efficient ride from Cherry Street on the North end to the new South Transit Center,” said Administrator Rogoff. “It’s a reliable and desirable way to travel—and helps people keep more money in their wallets instead of paying it at the gas pump.”

The BRT is also expected to help revitalize the downtown shopping district by improving access to the area. To that end, a new university student housing center and a third new apartment building are under construction, and developers are purchasing land along the Corridor for future commercial and residential projects.

In addition to the agreement signed today, the Federal Transit Administration is also making almost $3.9 million available for the project through its Bus and Bus Facilities grant program. These funds supplement about $11 million awarded in FY2010 for project planning and related work, bringing the total federal commitment to about $69.4 million, or roughly 80 percent of the total project. The City of Fort Collins, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State University, and the Downtown Development Authority are contributing the remaining funds toward the $87 million BRT project