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Rain, flooding force closures of Red Rock Canyon, Midland Trail segment

High creek water levels from frequent rains since late April appear to have undercut the Midland Trail pedestrian bridge near the community garden in Vermijo Park. The bridge is part of the segment that City Parks has temporarily closed because of concerns about water getting on the trail.
Travers Jordan photo - special to the Westside Pioneer
Damage from nearly a month of frequent rainfall in Colorado Springs continues to take its toll.
       On the Westside, a city press release May 19 announced the closure of the Red Rock Canyon Open Space and close to a one-mile segment of the Midland Trail between 26th Street and Ridge Road.
       Red Rock, originally about 790 acres when the city bought it 12 years ago, now also includes the adjoining Section 16 and White Acres open space parcels, which bring the total to nearly 1,500 acres in the Westside area that are currently shut down.
       A later press release, May 21, said that saturated conditions have also led the city to close its public parks to rock-climbing. This includes the Garden of the Gods, a popular location for that sport on the Westside, as well as Red Rock.
       The Red Rock closure was “due to the extensive damage caused by recent rains and a dam breach within Sand Canyon,” the release states. “At this time, no private property is affected. [City] Parks staff is assessing damage and trail conditions throughout the entire property.”
       About a week earlier, the Foothills Trail was closed for nearly a mile between Gateway Road and the Navigators property. The trail has been overtopped and undercut by flooding that caused portions of its paved surface to break and sag.
       A follow-up with city officials brought out the reasons for closing that part of the Midland Trail (which mostly parallels Fountain Creek). “It is because of the unpredictability of the amount of water coming down the creek and that the trail in that section lies very low,” explained Krithika Prashant of the Mayor's Office. “It is a precautionary safety measure.”
       A hike along that trail segment in early May,
Water laps just under the deck of the pedestrian bridge over Camp Creek just north of Gateway Road. The photo looks north from the roadway bridge. The Foothills Trail from Gateway Road to the Navigators property has been closed because of high water.
Westside Pioneer photo
before the closure announcement, had also revealed at least two bridges that were undercut by high creek water levels.
       Steve Bach, who is finishing out his term as mayor, before Mayor-elect John Suthers is sworn in June 2, has signed a local disaster declaration “based on an estimated $8.2 million in damages to public infrastructure caused by heavy rain storms and flooding between May 3 and May 12, 2015,” a separate city press release states. “This special appropriation would allow the city to begin funding repairs on… high priority projects while the disaster declaration is being considered for federal assistance.”
       Also, Bach has announced that he will request City Council to approve an “emergency supplemental appropriation ordinance in the amount of $5 million to fund the highest priority repairs for stormwater and parks infrastructure that were damaged during the severe weather event May 3-12.”
       On the Westside, the request includes $35,000 to repair the Foothills Trail.
       The weather has also worsened a common spring driving occurrence - the emergence of potholes. Corey Farkas, head of the City Street Division, said in a recent press conference it would be less of a problem if the city were able to maintain the “industry standard” of fully repaving 10 percent of its streets every year. But currently the city percentage is only 1.28 percent, he said.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 5/20/15, updated 5/27/15; Outdoors General)

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