Fort Collins, Colorado is a city on the rise, with a rapidly-growing population, a thriving local arts, music and craft brewing scene, and a stunning natural setting at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. But it has a problem: the BNSF railway has left behind a legacy that is a nuisance to many: a right-of-way that shares Mason Street, a major downtown route, with automobile, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Diesel freight trains rumble down the street multiple times a day, causing traffic delays, safety concerns and prompting patrons at nearby sidewalk cafes to plug their ears in dismay. How can the design of the public realm be improved for the residents and businesses of Mason Street? How can we mitigate the impacts of the train traffic, while acknowledging and celebrating its place in Fort Collins history and the unique urban condition it creates? We’re looking to transform this largely neglected strip into a downtown destination!
We received numerous entries that were able to successfully go “Off the Rails” and think big, and only nine finalists remain.