Home Page

If money can be found, construction on major Camp Creek flood project could start next year

       If funding becomes available, elements of the city's recently revealed flood-control plan for Camp Creek could go into construction next year, with redevelopment of the ditch through Pleasant Valley starting as early as 2017.
       These estimates appear in the May edition of a four-page city newsletter titled Camp Creek Drainage Improvement Plan. The project, estimated to cost about $37 million, was fleshed out in terms of its features and priorities during an engineering study/public process that started last fall and continued through the last meeting April 29.

In a view north from 31st Street and Chambers Way, southward-flowing Camp Creek bends west of the American Mother's Chapel in the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. The bridge over the creek near the chapel is at far left. An element of the planned Camp Creek flood-control project will be to reroute a few hundred feet of the creek in this area, eliminating the bend so that the creek will flow east of the chapel.
Westside Pioneer photo
       The newsletter adds the caveat that “this schedule is contingent on securing funding for design and construction in a timely manner,” and that, while a range of funding sources are being explored, “currently, only a portion of the design and none of the construction elements are fully funded.”
       Asked to clarify that aspect, Mike Chaves, the project's main contact with City Engineering, said that budgeted funding currently exists for “preliminary design and possibly final design.” Wilson & Co., which was the consultant for the study, remains under contract, Chaves added.
       Improvements, especially to the creek ditch through Pleasant Valley, have been under consideration for more than a decade, but have grown in importance since the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire that stripped vegetation in the hills where Camp Creek starts, leading to increased flooding concerns.
       At a Camp Creek public meeting in February, attendee responses showed strong approval for the concept that the city revealed in April that it will go with. The plan is to redevelop the concrete-lined ditch down the middle of 31st Street into a more natural-looking channel, coupled with numerous improvements upstream.
       The “features of the final plan” are listed as follows in the newsletter:
       - “A detention/sediment collection pond in the northern portion of Garden of the Gods Park.
       - “Naturalistic channel stabilization in Garden of the Gods Park and Rock Ledge Ranch.
       - “Replacement of the Camp Creek bridge and widening the pavement at Gateway Road.
       - “Realignment of Camp Creek near the chapel in Rock Ledge Ranch.
       - “Some realignment of trails in Garden of the Gods Park and Rock Ledge Ranch.
       - “Replacement of culverts and bridges with larger bridges to minimize restrictions in the 31st Street channel.
       - “Replacement of the existing concrete and rock-lined channel in 31st Street with a wider channel with a rock and boulder-lined, low-flow channel and flatter, grass and small shrub-lined upper side slopes.
       - “A paved extension of the Foothills Trail within the 31st Street channel section.
A conceptual rendering of how Camp Creek's 31st Street ditch through Pleasant Valley will look when the project is done. Note that the ditch's greater width - needed for flood control - will move the roadway closer to the homes on each side, resulting in narrower parkways and the need for some property owners to choose between keeping on-street parking or parkway trees.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Engineering
       - “Elimination of the bike lanes along 31st Street. Bike lanes will be relocated to 30th Street in the PPACG Non-Motorized Transportation Plan currently being developed. [See separate Westside Pioneer story.]
       - “Preservation of on-street parking along 31st Street except where residents opt for bump-outs in select locations to preserve trees in front of their lots.
       - “Extension of the underground portion of Camp Creek from Bijou Street/Echo Lane to West Platte Avenue.
       - “Potential realignment of the Camp Creek culvert at the confluence with Fountain Creek."
       The newsletter pledges that the project will result in the following:
       - “Reduce the risk of flooding in Pleasant Valley and Rock Ledge Ranch.
       - “Improve emergency access to Pleasant Valley, Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch during large flood events.
       - “Remove residential and commercial properties in Pleasant Valley from the 100-year flood plain.
       - “Reduce the amount of water flowing on 31st Street in large flood events.
       - “Improve traffic safety and reduce flood risks associated with Gateway Road.
       - “Manage erosion and sedimentation through Garden of the Gods.”
       The city schedule, as stated in the newsletter, calls for all the design work to take place in 2014-2015. Here is the construction time frame (funding-dependent):
       - North Garden of the Gods detention pond - 2015-2016.
       - Camp Creek stabilization through the Park [Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch] - 2016-2017.
       - Gateway Road and culvert improvements - 2016-2017.
       - Bijou to Fontanero: 31st Street (culvert, channel) - 2017-2018.
       - Fontanero to Water Street bridge (31st Street channel and roadway improvements) - 2018-2019.
       - Water Street to Rock Ledge Ranch (31st Street bridge, channel and roadway improvements) - 2019-2020.
       - Fountain Creek to Bijou Street (Camp Creek culvert improvements) - 2020-2021.
       The newsletter states that “project funding is likely to come from a variety of sources.” Suggested possibilities for both construction and maintenance funding are the city general fund and a potential stormwater fee (the latter may be on the ballot this November).
       Suggested as construction-only funding sources are grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Resource Conservation Service, grants from unnamed entities and a potential sale of bonds. In an interview, Chaves said the city is currently pursuing two grants, elaborating that, "if successful, it may be possible to fund the pond construction."
       A suggested source for maintenance-only funding is what the newsletter terms a “private-sector sponsorship.” An example would be groups or individuals adopting sections of trails or highways.
       The city's current Camp Creek website link is springsgov.com/campcreek.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 5/22/14; Projects: Flood Control)

Would you like to respond to this article? The Westside Pioneer welcomes letters at editor@westsidepioneer.com. (Click here for letter-writing criteria.)