Underpass projected to be constructed on Elizabeth and Shields intersection by Fall 2018

Erik Petrovich

Two cars collided at the intersection of Shields and Elizabeth in the early afternoon on September 10, 2012. (Collegian file photo)
Two cars collided at the intersection of Shields and Elizabeth in the early afternoon on September 10, 2012. (Collegian file photo)

When campus planner Fred Haberecht began his work at Colorado State University in 2001, the university was in talks with the City of Fort Collins to develop a safer way to cross the intersection at Shields St. and Elizabeth St. Now 15 years later, the university and the City are looking to construct a tunnel connecting Campus West to Moby Arena and the CSU campus.

According to Haberecht, more focused planning began two years ago. It is now estimated that construction on the underpass will begin August 2017 and will be finished by fall 2018 – if the City of Fort Collins and CSU can agree on a final plan and fund it.

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Officials at CSU and in the City of Fort Collins said they hope the proposed underpass will ease congestion on the intersection. According to data provided by city engineer Tim Kemp, there are about 310 people on foot or on bikes and nearly 4,000 people in cars who cross the intersection each hour. 

Over the last five years, there were 154 crashes at the Shields St. and Elizabeth St. intersection, 28 of which resulted in injuries. There were also three crashes with cyclists and two crashes with people on foot in that time.

The proposed underpass is estimated to cost anywhere from $7 to $9 million dollars, according to Kemp. However, because the underpass is not yet an official project, the city has not considered where the funding for this construction would come from.

“It would just be speculation at this point,” Haberecht said. “It is not a funded project at this point… many details have not been resolved.”

Haberecht, who leads CSU’s involvement in the project, said there will be no cost to CSU students.

According to Haberecht, the underpass is also part of the university’s plan to ease traffic on game days at the on-campus stadium Sonny Lubick Field, which will not be ready for use until the Fall 2017 semester. The stadium will hold 41,000 seats, with an estimated 1,000 people using the intersection directly after games finishing at the stadium, according to the city.

City of Fort Collins senior project planner Amy Lewin said the underpass would fit in with the city’s goal to improve transportation along West Elizabeth St in a project called the West Elizabeth Enhanced Transportation Corridor. The corridor includes all of West Elizabeth St. from Shields St. to Overland Trail. 

Kemp and Haberecht said more information on the underpass will be made available in the coming months as more planning takes place.

Collegian Executive Editor Erik Petrovich can be reached at editor@collegian.com or on Twitter @EAPetrovich