VIDEO: Flood closes Cheyenne Cañon indefinitely

By Matt Steiner Updated: September 19, 2013 at 7:11 am • Published: September 18, 2013 | 11:55 pm 0

Raging waters poured down Cheyenne Creek last week during flooding the struck across Colorado, leaving North Cheyenne Cañon Park with washed-out roads, trees that could topple any minute and newly formed waterfalls.

Colorado Springs road crews and private tree removal contractors did their thing Wednesday just yards from the still fast-moving creek and new channels of water.

While there were signs of erosion throughout the park at the western end of Cheyenne Boulevard, the section getting the most attention Wednesday was near the Mount Cutler trailhead.

Workers used heavy machinery to repair two 20-yard sections of the westbound lane of North Cheyenne Canyon Road, less than a quarter-mile from the trail. Workers from Asplundh, a private contractor, marked dangerous trees and shortly after noon prepared to drop a 50-foot pine leaning precariously over the road.

Karen Palus, director of the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, said city parks maintenance crews would fix trails where runoff had left gaping trenches.

"The park is changing daily," Palus said.

Cheyenne Creek continued to flow at about 200 times its normal pace.

The creek usually comes down the mountain near Pikes Peak at a rate of just over 2 cubic feet per second. According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, the stream was pouring over Helen Hunt Falls at about 225 cfs.

USGS readings showed Cheyenne Creek reaching more than 1,600 cfs Sept. 12 and Friday at the height of last week's storms.

Palus said repairs in the park will cost the city about $300,000 - in addition to the roadwork.

The estimated cost to repair flood damage to all city parks will be about $4.4 million, she said.

Palus said those totals do not include repairs to city streets like the one in Cheyenne Canyon. Kim Melchor, a city spokeswoman, said assessments are still being done on street damage.

"For safety reasons," North Cheyenne Ca?n Park will be closed indefinitely, Palus said.

Other parkland still closed Wednesday from the floods included Palmer Park, Harlan Wolfe Park, the Greenway Trail from Nevada Avenue to Polk Street and the Sinton Trail. Other areas on the west side of Colorado Springs also remained closed and were undergoing repairs.

Lower Gold Camp Road had heavy damage. Palus said that area is also changing daily, and there are ditches 4 feet deep.

Privately owned Seven Falls is closed. What used to be a road and parking lot is now a heavy flowing river with several small rapids and waterfalls formed by shifted asphalt.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo came away virtually unscathed, however.

During the deluge, the zoo was on the receiving end of "some minor erosion and spot flooding," but it didn't prevent the zoo from operating normally, said Erica Meyer, a spokeswoman for the zoo.

"We consider ourselves very lucky," she said. "There was no damage to any major infrastructure and no effect" on business.

-

Gazette reporter Erin Prater

contributed to this report.

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