What’s happening in Fort Collins in 2018?

The future is now.

Well, almost.

Fort Collins will wake up to a new year on Monday. So what’s in store for the Choice City in 2018?

As roads reopen, trails connect and Old Town changes, here’s what you can expect.

How life will get easier

The end of construction on U.S. Highway 34: Tourists (and residents of the Big Thompson Canyon) will get a clear path to Estes Park later this year. The $50 million reconstruction project on U.S. Highway 34 is slated to end, with CDOT expecting the road reopening around Memorial Day and construction ending by the end of the year.

A better connection: Cyclists and pedestrians, rejoice! While the Colorado Front Range Trail — the first paved trail to connect Loveland and Fort Collins — opened this fall, another connecting trail is set to open in the next year. The Long View Corridor Trail will run 4.4 miles on the west side of both cities. Fort Collins also has plans to extend the Fossil Creek trail, connecting College Avenue and Shields Street, with completion set for this summer.

Changes to the landscape

Kayak park work to begin: The booming river district will see signs of another addition this year when work begins on a long-awaited whitewater kayak park on the Poudre River.

While the city of Fort Collins was awaiting a final permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in order to move forward, work on the project is expected to begin in fall 2018 and be completed by the start of 2019.

The whitewater park will be built on the river east of College Avenue and will include a boulder-lined boat chute, rock features, holes for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and tubing, and shallow play areas close to shore.

Anticipation for Birney Car 25: It’s not a Fort Collins summer without the beloved Birney Car 21 — a refurbished street car circa 1919 — rumbling down Mountain Avenue.

In 2018, some work will be going on behind the scenes to make way for another street car — Birney Car 25. The volunteer-run Fort Collins Municipal Railway hopes to start construction on its West Mountain Avenue car barn in 2018, expanding it to three bays to make room for the addition.

Birney Car 25, which is being reconditioned in a second car barn on Howes Street, was purchased by the organization in 2007. Once its reconditioning is finished and the Mountain Avenue car barn is expanded, expect to see Car 25 join Car 21 on weekend rides through Old Town — possibly by 2019.

Donations to support the projects can be sent to Fort Collins Municipal Railway Society at P.O. Box 635, Fort Collins, CO, 80522.

A changing Old Town: Times, they are a changin’ — especially in Old Town. The recently-opened Elizabeth Hotel has replaced the former Armadillo restaurant and its adjacent buildings at Chestnut and Walnut streets. Ginger & Baker transformed the old Northern Colorado Feeders Supply building at 359 Linden St.

In 2018, more changes are on the horizon for Fort Collins’ beloved city center.

The northwestern corner of Linden and Jefferson streets — once home to Jefferson Park — will soon house Union, a 6,000-square-foot in-the-works restaurant set to open in early 2018.

The 200 block of North College —  a triangular slice of property also bordered by Pine and Jefferson Streets — is getting a new look as it’s transformed into The Exchange. The Exchange will include restaurants, CopperMuse Distillery, shops and an open-air private plaza. It’s expected to open fully in April.

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