Columbia Road walls, trees torn down, allowing added traffic lane
But they're coming back - at least to some extent.
They're the hundreds of stones left over from the heavy-equipment demolition of the low wall (topped by wooden fencing) that for nearly a century had marked the boundary along Columbia Road of one of the Westside's earliest vehicle campgrounds.
The removal of the wall/fence - as well as 10 or so mature trees that stood next to them - is part of the $35.5 million Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) project design.
The cleared space will allow Columbia to be widened about 15 feet between Colorado and Pikes Peak avenues, making room for a southbound right-turn lane in the coming months when WAAP transforms Colorado/ Columbia into an intersection with a stoplight at the new Adams Crossing Bridge.
The new boundary will be mostly cedar fence, broken up at intervals by “pilasters” (pillars) reusing the old rock, plans show. Any additional rocks will not be used at Columbia, but stockpiled for potential use in an undefined “historic mitigation site near the Manitou sign,” a project document states.
As for the trees, they will not be replaced. “The widening left little to no room” to do so, according to Steve Murray, the lead design consultant on the project.
Originally called Stonewall Park (Stonewall Cottages by the 1950s), the campground was developed with its namesake walls in 1922. According to local historian Mel McFarland, that was a time when tourists traveling by auto was starting to become popular. The site retains that camping spirit to this day as the 13- acre, 154-space Garden of the Gods RV Resort.
What's now the resort property was once the home of prominent citizen Charles Adams. He died in the 1880s, but Adams Crossing (the name acknowledges the former intersection there of railroad and street car tracks as well as the avenue and the creek) became its lasting nickname. Into at least the 1950s, Adams' former house (torn down in the '60s) was the office building of Stonewall Cottages.
Other sections of the old stone wall follow Columbia north of Pikes Peak Avenue and along El Paso Boulevard. These sections will remain in place.
Columbia Road has been closed between Pikes Peak and Colorado since mid-June to allow the work there. The street widening will be preceded by underground work, including the installation of storm inlets, a water line and communication lines. Dennis Barron, the WAAP project manager for El Paso County, estimated that these efforts will be finished in August (although a subsequent project press release stated that this part of Columbia will remain closed “through mid-September”).
Another section of the property's stone wall was in place along its south boundary. It's being removed in its entirety because the new bridge is being built 50 feet north of the old one. To make room, the WAAP project had to buy about a half- acre strip along that part of the resort property.
Removing the wall wasn't as simple as surveying the site and hauling in the equipment. Barron pointed out that Colorado's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) required documentation of the old stonework and that the wall be “memorialized” in some way (details not yet known).
A chainlink fence will eventually mark the new resort boundary on its south side, he said.
According to RV Resort general manager Scott McConnaughey, the campground will keep “a small quantity” of the stones from the old wall for future landscaping needs.
Although the WAAP project continues to be tough on business - thanks to the close-by noise, dust and traffic - he described it as “necessary pain” that will result in a better situation overall.
The 15 feet for the Columbia widening resulted from WAAP buying property from the resort. Fortunately, the resort has a wide driveway, McConnaughey observed.
Even with the widening, “we will have plenty of room, with two lanes coming in,” he said. “It will work pretty well.”
The overall WAAP project, which is rebuilding the avenue for about 1½ miles west of 31st Street, is slated for “substantial completion” by the end of this year, according to Barron.
Westside Pioneer article