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Fort Collins tunnel will link recreation trails -- Fossil Creek Trail and Mason Trail

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Posted at 8:58 AM, Jan 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-27 10:58:50-05

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- A new tunnel in Fort Collins will connect several bike paths, some that exist now and others planned for the future.

The tunnel, just west of South College Avenue, is going under the railroad tracks.

"What’s really unique is we are tunneling under the tracks, but we have to keep the train running," Kurt Friesen, director of Fort Collins Park Planning and Development, told Denver7.

Instead of rerouting the train, excavating, building the tunnel and rebuilding the tracks, in this case, the project is being done underground while the train continues to run.

"We have to bore under the tracks, pushing a tunnel under the tracks, all the while maintaining integrity of the crossing to support the train."

Once the tunnel is in, it will link the Fossil Creek Trail, an east-west trail that follows the creek, with the Mason Trail, a primary north-south trail through the city.

"This is a key connector for our trail system," Friesen said. "It's a missing link."

While the Mason Trail is primarily a commuter route, and the Fossil Creek Trail is primarily a recreation trail, combining the two will help cyclists eventually connect to Loveland, Friesen explained.

"We are working on two other projects that are connectors to Loveland," Friesen said. "Once our two trail connectors to Loveland are complete, it will provide greater access for everyone."

Those trails are the Front Range Trail and the Long View Trail. The Long View Trail was named for its view of Longs Peak.

The tunnel project has been in the works for more than four years. Friesen explained it took time to coordinate with the railroad and get the needed approvals.

The project is being funded by GOCO and Conservation Trust Funds.

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