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Anticipating future upgrade needs, city scours
Camp Creek's 1,200-foot underground channel

       A 1,200-foot-long underground drainage channel for Camp Creek is getting a cleaning.
       The segment is several feet under 31st Street between Bijou Street and Fountain Creek.
       The work isn't being done because of a blockage. It's part of a $1.6-million, grant- supported effort to assess the condition of the 54-year-old channel so as to have an
In a view from 31st Street toward the Fountain Creek end of the 1,200-foot-long underground drainage channel, a bucket-attached skid loader pushes debris out to a flat area where a backhoe can scoop it up and empty it into a dump truck.
Westside Pioneer photo
upgrade design ready when the work can be done in conjunction with future projects that are planned in the area, according to Mike Chaves of City Engineering.
       The clean-out project started this month and is expected to continue until January. The work is visible from the 31st Street bridge over Fountain Creek. That's where Camp Creek drains into Fountain Creek.
       A bucket-attached skid loader has been working at that end - despite a water flow in the creek - and pushing wet gunk out to a flat area above Fountain Creek. A backhoe has been sitting above that point, south of the KFC parking lot, scooping up the material and putting it into a dump truck for hauling.
       Passing under the intersections of Bijou, Pikes Peak Avenue and Colorado Avenue, the arch-shaped channel is called a “bridge” in engineering parlance. As such, at 1,200 feet, it's the longest bridge in Colorado Springs, city engineers have said.
       From a distance (at either the Bijou or Fountain Creek ends), the arched opening looks smaller than it is. Informed of the 1,200-foot length, one Westside resident, Steve Bartley (who had contacted the Westside Pioneer about the project), asked how much of the channel the city is "actually able to realistically and completely clean out?” and joked that the job might require extremely small people.
       But in fact the arch, lined with steel, is 25 feet wide across at its bottom and 8 feet
Another view from 31st Street shows the Bobcat-brand skid loader closer up and from the side, as it shoves mud out of the underground channel at the Fountain Creek end.
Steve Bartley photo
high in the middle. Smaller mechanized units like the skid loader can roll the entire length of its flat, concrete bottom, Chaves said.
       Most of the material being found inside the channel/bridge is gravel, which he believes was washing down from the decomposing hills even before the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire.
       Chaves quoted a pre-project estimate that the roughly month-long clean-out will fill about 100 dump-truck loads. But it's not like runoff debris accumulates there. Chaves said the channel typically drains effectively, so the city has needed no regular schedule to clean it out.
       The work this month is being handled by a subcontractor hired by Wilson & Co. A private engineering firm, Wilson was also a hired consultant with the city on its Camp Creek drainage-control study from mid-2013 to mid-2014. On the current effort, Wilson is helping the city assess the channel/bridge's condition and recommend any needed improvements. While no major problems have been identified going in, the thing was built more than 50 years ago, and having it cleaned out will make it easier to see any problems that might exist, Chaves explained.
       Also giving the work some urgency, he pointed out, is the reality of three planned projects in that area, all of which could affect the Bijou-to-Fountain-Creek underground segment when they go in, so it's prudent to have an upgrade design ready.
       Those three projects are:
       - Camp Creek (improving drainage from the north end of the Garden of the Gods to the Bijou Street underground point; no scheduled start date).
       - No Man's Land (redoing road and public services above and below ground west of 31st Street west into Manitou Springs; scheduled to start in late 2015).
       - Highway 24 (enlarging the 31st Street intersection; no scheduled start date).
       According to previously provided city information, federal surface transportation funds are covering about $1.3 million of the channel/bridge's assessment/design work. The remaining $300,000 is coming from the city.
       It is expected that any channel improvements would be implemented in conjunction with one or more of the future projects.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 12/13/14 Projects: Flood Control)

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