Olsson Helps Loveland Plan Community Gateway

Joe Duggan, Communications

May 22, 2020

Loveland, Colorado, had a rare opportunity to plan for the transformation of a rural, two-lane highway into a primary community gateway.

Olsson helped ensure the opportunity was not missed.

We assisted Loveland with the creation of the Highway 402 Corridor Plan. The 257-page document provides a holistic, long-range blueprint for enhanced transportation infrastructure, improved traffic safety, wise land development, and preservation of the natural environment that characterizes the area.

“You only get so many shots at a major gateway into a community,” said Ken Boone, industry expert with Olsson Studio. “The Loveland project represents a community working to make the most of that opportunity.”

We excel at helping communities make the most of their transportation corridors. Our teams of community planners and transportation engineers, designers and landscape architects work alongside our project partners to find the best solutions for each community we serve.

We know it takes more than designs and renderings. Crafting a corridor plan that merits broad support in a community requires listening carefully, understanding conflict points, and building consensus.

In Loveland, the need for a corridor plan became more pressing with construction of a new interchange at the intersection of Colorado State Highway 402 and Interstate 25. Planning officials anticipated increased development pressure on the corridor due to the new interchange and they wanted to help guide the development.

Loveland officials also wanted the public to have a strong say in the plan’s development.

Olsson's Ken Boone leads a discussion during a design charrette for the Highway 402 Corridor Plan. 

Our first step was to gather data on demographics, markets, economics, and growth projections for the area. We read Loveland’s comprehensive plan to better understand how the corridor fit within the city’s larger growth strategy.

Next, we engaged the community through meaningful visioning sessions, public stakeholder meetings, and a four-day design charrette to air conflicts, explore alternatives, and identify solutions. The hours spent listening and sharing information helped create trust, an essential element to any planning process.

Jennifer Hewett-Apperson, senior planner for the City of Loveland, said the first public meeting for the Highway 402 plan was the most well-attended meeting she has seen in her 20-year career. The entire public engagement process managed by Olsson was outstanding, she added.

“Everyone felt listened to,” she said. “The whole charette process that Ken and his team use is very transparent so everyone could see how the plan was evolving.”

The engagement work allowed us to take the next step in the process: narrowing and refining the concepts that would be included in the plan.

Next, we helped Loveland articulate a larger vision for the corridor based on the public input. The vision called for an aesthetically pleasing gateway with a mix of market-supported land uses. The roadway and surrounding corridor should be safe and accommodating to pedestrians, bicyclists, motor vehicles, commercial traffic, transit, and emerging modes of transportation. Finally, the corridor’s open viewsheds and proximity to the Big Thompson River are assets that must be protected and incorporated as the corridor develops.

The final plan document provided recommendations on land use, development and redevelopment, transportation, utilities, aesthetics, and quality of life.

A future landuse map from Loveland's Highway 402 Corridor Plan.

Several residents spoke in favor of the plan when it came before the city council, while no one testified against it. The corridor plan has since been incorporated into the city’s master plan document and other initial steps are in the works.

“Our officials are really pleased with the way the plan turned out and we received excellent feedback from the public,” Jennifer said. “I wouldn’t hesitate to hire Olsson again.”

Maybe that’s because we didn’t write the Highway 402 Corridor Plan. Loveland did.

“They wanted a corridor that is reflective of Loveland, not just Anywhere, U.S.A.,” Ken said. “Their vision for the corridor, and the plan we helped them come up with, can do exactly that.”

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