Douglas Creek repairs scaled back

       Faced with unanticipated repair costs and a 2009 budget cut, the Colorado Springs Stormwater Enterprise has scaled back its plans to upgrade the roughly 30-year- old concrete drainageway west of Centennial Boulevard.
       Instead of emergency-fixing the five worst sections this year, then redoing the entirety of the half-mile channel by 2011, the new goal is to fix at least three of the five now. As for the redoing, which had been budgeted at about $3.6 million over three years, that's off the schedule except for a long-range study later this year that would include public-input meetings.
       According to Steve Jacobsen, a senior civil engineer for the Enterprise, repairs to the two worst sections (west of Intel) were accomplished earlier this year by Frazee Construction, and another contractor (Spaccamonti Excavating) is about to start on the third - an approximately 100-foot area farther west, near Arrowswest Drive. But Stormwater officials discovered to their dismay on the first two sections that behind the obvious channel damage - such as broken or missing concrete slabs - were issues of water undermining the channel and even its sidewalls. “More work had to be done under the channel to stabilize soils, and this required more concrete,” Jacobsen said. “We had to reconstruct and replace the channel in those places. A lot of it was not being supported by anything.”
       He added that overall the project has proven to be “a real lesson learned.”
       Because of the unexpected problems, fixing the first two sections cost about $300,000 - as opposed to the original budget, which had estimated $250,000 to cover all five. To pay for the third-highest priority this year (as well as the fourth and also, hopefully, the long-range study), Stormwater salvaged $200,000 from the budget of the now-postponed $3.6 million project, he explained.
       Stormwater is funded mainly by fees assessed to city property owners. The entity's budget crunch resulted from City Council deciding to eliminate its previous general-fund contribution to Stormwater, which this year would have been $2.27 million, according to city documents.
       The Spaccamonti work on the Arrowswest-area fix is expected to start this month and to last about four weeks. A large chunk of its concrete channel bottom is missing, and a crack can be seen in the sidewall.
       But there's still uncertainty about the extent of undermining. “We'll have to see how far the money will take us,” Jacobsen said.
       The fourth area is farther downstream, behind the Chelsea Glen subdivision. It also has a channel bottom that's “blown out,” Jacobsen said, but abuts what's considered to be the best-maintained portion of the channel as a whole.
       The fifth area is “the best of the bad,” as Jacobsen put it, a 250-foot section that's hampered only by potholing that's not too bad now but could get worse over time.
       The Stormwater thinking is that fixing at least the third priority, and preferably the fourth as well, “will buy us a little more time out there,” Jacobsen said. Asked how much time, he cautioned that “I don't have a crystal ball,” but predicted “we may get five years out of it.”
       An additional plus in fixing the three top-priority sections is that those were/are the worst “public hazards” for people who venture into the channel, he pointed out, including one place where the bottom concrete had been cantilevered.
       En route to Sinton Pond (near Monument Creek), Douglas Creek contributors include the Mountain Shadows neighborhood and 30th Street businesses, the industrial parks along Garden of the Gods (including Intel), and (east of Centennial) the Holland Park area and Douglas Creek Open Space.

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