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Seeking federal grant, city drafts EA for Camp Creek upgrades; public can comment

Near the height of the flooding in May 2015, Camp Creek was nearly cresting the deck of the pedestrian bridge over Gateway Road. The bridge would be replaced in the planned city project.
Westside Pioneer file photo
The City of Colorado Springs has completed a draft environmental assessment on how it plans to mitigate flooding along Camp Creek where it flows through the city-owned Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch.
       The 54-page document was released for public review Feb. 11, and comments are being taken through Feb. 26.
       An EA is a formal step in qualifying for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant, which would help cover the estimated $12 million cost of the envisioned improvements, a city press release states.
       The draft EA notes that the Camp Creek flooding issues were greatly worsened by the Waldo Canyon Fire of 2012, which wiped out most of the vegetation in the creek's upstream watershed.
       If the grant is awarded, the first element of the work - a stormwater detention/sediment retention pond on the creek at the north end of the Garden of the Gods - is expected to start “late this fall and be completed in 2017,” the press release states.
       The draft EA's proposed actions are in keeping with a plan worked out by city engineers and its consultant, Wilson & Company, after a study and public meetings in 2013 and 2014.
       As stated in the draft EA, the three main elements of the “Proposed Action” are construction of the detention pond, replacement of the Gateway Road bridge over
A graphic from the draft Environmental Assessment shows the Camp Creek watershed and the proposed city/FEMA flood-mitigation project location.
Courtesy of Wilson & Company
Camp Creek and improvements to the creek channel through the Garden and Rock Ledge.
       Mike Chaves of City Engineering elaborated that the FEMA grant would pay 75 percent ($5.9 million) of the estimated $7.8 million cost for the first element, the pond. The balance would be covered by the state and the city, each accounting for 12.5 percent ($984,000). He added that monetary sources for the other two elements are being sought, but with nothing currently certain.
       The draft EA provides some details about each of the three elements.
       - The pond's “footprint” would take up about 17 acres and have a temporary storage capacity of 175 acre feet, which would be enough to handle the water from a 100-year flood as well as sediment from the Waldo Canyon burn scar. Revegetation of the area dug out for the pond would be part of the work.
       The city built a smaller, temporary sediment-collection pond two years ago, but the flooding last spring overwhelmed it, according to city information at that time.
       - The new Gateway Road bridge would still have one lane each way, but would be longer and wider, leaving space for bicycles; also, to avert flooding, the bridge would be about three feet higher than it is today.
       - The channel stabilization would involve giving the creek a more “natural” look and feel and replacing the current pedestrian bridges (one by Gateway Road and the other two in Rock Ledge Ranch).
       Also necessary as part of the project would be relocations of parts of the Foothills and Dakota trails, the draft EA shows.
       Because of limited funding, the city/FEMA project would not include any of the plan-recommended work at this time in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood (south of Rock Ledge). However, the draft EA states that the new detention pond “would reduce the peak outflow rate in the 100-year event to less than half of the inflow rate, thus greatly reducing the size of the floodplain though the Pleasant Valley neighborhood.”
       The draft EA is posted at this site.
       Comments and requests for technical information can be submitted to Vancel Fossinger, project manager with Wilson & Company, at 302-6742 or by e-mail at vance.fossinger@wilsonco.com.

Westside Pioneer/press release
(Posted 2/11/16, updated 2/12/16; Projects: (Flood Control)

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