Fort Collins City planners look to emphasize alternate transportation

Carson Lipe

A 2015 projection on the City of Fort Collins website adds 80,000 people to the population by 2040. Luckily, Fort Collins has plans to alleviate the congestion on the roads.

“The City has many plans that are area-specific, but there is also one overarching master plan that looks at the transportation system holistically,” said Paul Sizemore, the program manager of Fort Collins Moves.

Ad

FC Moves is a city-run program that focuses on transportation development.

“We are currently in the early stages of a major update to City Plan, which was last done in 2011,” Sizemore said. “This effort will look at land use and population trends and project them into the future, and develop strategies and policy guidance to best accommodate the future demand.”

It’s not only the City of Fort Collins who is planning for the population increase. Colorado State University has a master plan of its own.

The bike master plan, developed in 2014, is a fifty-page document “intended to help the University increase bicycling on campus as a way to enhance campus sustainability and reduce demand for automobile travel and parking.”

CSU is not ignorant to the fact that even with efforts to reduce privately owned vehicles, some students will still need to drive to school.

For that, CSU has the Parking and Transportation master plan which follows guidelines to “maximize alternate transportation methods,” while also leaving space to “maintain vehicle access.”

Although presently the City of Fort Collins has not selected any new modes of transportation to be implemented throughout the community, they are always considering new options that residents will be able to use to navigate the streets.

“The transportation industry is evolving very rapidly, and this is something we’re considering carefully in the new City Plan update,” Sizemore said. 

While alternate transportation is to be increased in the future, presently, the increase in the number of road lanes is a possible solution to traffic congestion.

“Sometimes it is appropriate to widen a road (from four) to six lanes, and other times it isn’t. It depends on the context,” Sizemore said. “Our Master Street Plan is set up to tell us which roads will be widened and which ones won’t.”

Ad

Sizemore commented on the fact that some roads throughout Fort Collins are better suited for expansion than others.

“Major arterials with enough space and the capacity needs are good candidates for widening, while roads with less traffic volume or in constrained areas might not be good candidates for widening,” Sizemore said. 

With companies like Tesla and Ford paving the way for future transportation, Sizemore thinks self-driving vehicles will be more common place.

“It is also exciting to see the evolution of autonomous vehicles, which will likely be impacting our roads sooner rather than later,” Sizemore said. 

Jared Fiel, a representative from the Colorado Department of Transportation, said that autonomous vehicles are even being tested for use in state sponsored construction. 

“When we have crews out painting the roads, we put a vehicle between our crew and the travelling public,” Fiel said. “The vehicle follows the crew and separates them from traffic.”

Fiel said that currently, these “crash trucks” are driven by humans, which can be counter-productive from a safety standpoint. Soon enough, the trucks will be driven by computers.

“We are actually going to put those (crash trucks) on the road,” Fiel said. “Right now it’s just dealing with insurance and regulatory rules.”

Another point of focus for CODOT is adding multiple lanes to I-25. The effort for this project, which was originally projected to be finished in 2075, is already well ahead of schedule.

“Aside from general purpose lanes, we’ll be adding two express lanes, one going North and one going South,” Fiel said. “The projected completion for the express lanes is 2021, 14 years ahead of our original projection.”

According to Fiel, one of the main reasons that I-25 is ahead of schedule is because the cities on the Front Range have all worked together to raise extra money.

“The locals, by coming together, built us a time machine which put us 14 years ahead of schedule,” Fiel said. 

In the future, the number of independently operated vehicles could shrink, but Sizemore thinks there is one method of transportation that will surely sit well with residents.

“This is Fort Collins, so definitely longboarding too,” Sizemore said. 

Collegian reporter Carson Lipe can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @carsonlipe