Construction to start on Shields underpass in December

Construction is slated to start in early December on a pedestrian and bicycle underpass at Shields and Elizabeth, jointly proposed by the city and Colorado State University, following yesterday’s city Planning and Zoning Board approval.shields-underpass-nov-2016-cropped

The underpass will provide better access to the university and alleviate safety concerns created by a high volume of vehicles, bikes and pedestrians moving on and off campus at this and nearby intersections. The underpass follows years of planning efforts by the city and Colorado State University emphasizing the need for safety improvements to the Shields and Elizabeth Streets intersection.

At a key location, the underpass will be located at the heaviest corridor of bike, car and pedestrian traffic in the city. Traffic engineers estimate that 50,000 cars and 2,000 bikes enter the Shields and Elizabeth intersection each day with volumes increasing by more than 20 percent since 2009.

CSU will fund the $10.8 million project, and oversee construction while working collaboratively with the city.

“We expect that the underpass will be a significant safety benefit by separating travel modes,” said Tim Kemp, city project manager. “This project will help the city manage continued and projected population growth as redevelopment occurs along the West Elizabeth corridor.”shields-underpass-cropped

The project is scheduled last for nine months. Construction will begin with utility relocations and work on the CSU campus, near Moby Arena. The project will close the far south end of parking lot #195 on Nov. 14 for the duration of construction, to provide a staging area to the contractor. This will initially impact 55 parking stalls, primarily metered spaces.

In Spring 2017, project planners expect to close Shields Street to allow construction of the underpass between the southwest corner of the intersection and Campus West Shops. The closure will last for about four weeks, depending on weather.

Construction along Elizabeth, near the Campus West Shops, will begin in late spring. The underpass is expected to be complete by Fall 2017.

The underpass is part of a series of improvements the university committed to building as part of an intergovernmental agreement with the city that focuses on infrastructure surrounding the university. The intergovernmental agreement was developed in support of multiple city and university plans related to transportation and traffic, parking, bicycling, housing, and intersection designs. The Shields and Elizabeth intersection was evaluated as one of six potential locations, and was selected because it was the highest traffic area and had the most conflicts between cars, bikes and pedestrians.

“We’ve evaluated multiple options and locations, and believe the plan for this underpass provides the greatest benefit for both the Fort Collins and CSU communities,” said Tony Flores, project manager with Colorado State University Facilities Management.

The university and city have been working with Campus West tenants and property owners to ensure that the underpass design and construction timeline creates the least impact to business and local residents.  The city and CSU are currently working on scheduling a public open house in early December to discuss construction phasing, detour routes and traffic impacts.