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A pair of cyclists pass through the newly constructed Foothills Parkway bicycle and pedestrian underpass on Wednesday. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)
A pair of cyclists pass through the newly constructed Foothills Parkway bicycle and pedestrian underpass on Wednesday. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)
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Cyclists and pedestrians can now use the Foothills Parkway underpass, which connects Colorado Avenue to the Centennial Path.

The $4.4 million project replaces a deteriorating bridge built in 1978 that did not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act or bike facility guidelines for accessibility. The project was supported by $3.2 million in federal transportation funds and $1.2 million in Boulder transportation funds.

A cyclist passes through the newly constructed Foothills Parkway underpass on Wednesday. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)

Work on the project began in September 2019 after a period of community engagement that helped determine the design.

The project also includes connections to adjacent bicycle and pedestrian paths, signage, bicycle parking and replacement landscaping and trees, according to a news release. Boulder used a natural landscaping design with local stone, energy-efficient LED lighting and signage to guide the way.

In addition to meeting ADA requirements, Boulder officials say the underpass provides a more direct and accessible way to cross Foothills Parkway. The slopes are less steep, and the underpass enhances connections to nearby bike and pedestrian routes as well as Park East Park.

In order to build the underpass, the city first had to demolish the aging bridge.

“It (was) basically a really small controlled explosion,” Boulder transportation planner Jenny Godwin said. “A lot of folks actually came out to watch it.”

The city then began work on the next two phases, which entailed building the underpass on each side of the road. Boulder worked in such a way that they could maintain a traffic flow on Foothills, which Godwin said is the busiest road in Boulder.

She said the project supports the city’s transportation master plan by maintaining Boulder’s infrastructure in “good and safe” condition and providing transportation options, aside from car travel, for people of all ages and abilities.

Local artist Carolyn Braaksma designed panels within the underpass walls that mimic the flowing waters of South Boulder Creek.

“Developed from a map view of South Boulder Creek within Boulder itself, three different, visually distinctive panels combine off-the-shelf concrete liner textures with custom, hand-carved textures that reference water, mapping and the city’s special location within the Colorado foothills,” Braaksma wrote in an artist narrative.

Now that the underpass is usable, community members are asked to fill out a questionnaire to share feedback about the Foothills Parkway underpass at beheardboulder.org/capital-improvement-projects. Learn more about the project at bouldercolorado.gov/transportation/foothills-parkway-bicycle-and-pedestrian-underpass.

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