Mason Corridor: Boon or Boondoggle?

Aug 14, 2012 | Regional Focus

If you have a business in downtown Fort Collins or have had a reason to go downtown over the past few weeks, you know what a traffic snarl it has become due to work along Mason Street. Two construction projects have been underway. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad replaced the ties and rails in the 9-block stretch between Cherry and Laurel. The City of Fort Collins has been working to convert Mason Street to two-way traffic for the MAX rapid bus transit system which will run from Cherry five miles south past Harmony Road.

The MAX project will cost $80million to build (mostly from the federal taxpayers) with annual operating costs of $3million to $5million (largely paid for by Fort Collins taxpayers).

Those are eye-catching numbers, right? So, will the MAX rapid bus transit system be a taxpayer funded boondoggle or an economic boon to the community? Perhaps it’s both.

In the short-term, it’s hard to justify that kind of money for what will be a lightly used system in its early years. In the long-run, however, if CSU builds an on-campus stadium within walking distance of the MAX the equation immediately changes. And, the population of Fort Collins will grow by 100,000 over the next 25 years. That means the traditional street system will be under severe pressure.

Though it will always be subsidized, 20 years from now MAX will look like money well spent.

To learn more about Mason Corridor and MAX go here.