Three vehicular bridges on North Cheyenne Canyon Road in North Cheyenne Cañon Park have been redesigned and reconstructed. Construction began in September 2021 and was completed in August 2022. North Cheyenne Canyon Road reopened to park visitors on June 4, 2022.
- Historic Work in North Cheyenne Cañon (December 2021)
- North Cheyenne Cañon park bridge project update March, 2022
Throughout construction, North Cheyenne Canyon Road is closed to all users, including vehicles, bicyclists and hikers. Park trails will remain open to the public.
The road closure extends from the park entrance at the Starsmore Visitor & Nature Center to the newly resurfaced Powell Lot, above Helen Hunt Falls.
The parking lot at Helen Hunt Falls is closed during this time. Those seeking access to Helen Hunt Falls from Gold Camp Road should park in the newly resurfaced Powell Lot.
The parking lot is expected to fill quickly and visitors should be prepared to turn around if there are no parking spots. Illegally parked cars will be ticketed. Be prepared that Gold Camp Road is approximately 4 miles of rough-grade gravel road before reaching the Powell Lot. From the Powell Lot, it is about a 0.7 mile trail hike to Helen Hunt Falls.
The bridges have been designed to:
- Enhance safety for all North Cheyenne Cañon Park users;
- Provide appropriate bridge location adjustments where needed;
- Blend with the character of the Park;
- Minimize impacts to the natural surroundings during construction and beyond;
- Accommodate and convey larger rain events;
- Accommodate emergency services during construction and beyond; and
- Meet Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and City standards.
The City is committed to maintaining the historic context of North Cheyenne Cañon Park as part of the replacement of the existing roadway bridges. Relevant elements from the North Cheyenne Cañon Park Master and Management Plan have been incorporated into the design, including the aesthetic Design Guidelines; minimum bridge width of 24-feet (guardrail to guardrail) and; accommodation of the new Creekside Trail. The Master PlanA plan for the development of a portion of the city that contains proposed land uses, a generalized transportation system, and the relationship of the area included in the plan to surrounding property. can be viewed at: https://coloradosprings.gov/nccmasterplan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do the bridges in North Cheyenne Cañon Park need to be replaced?
North Cheyenne Canyon Road provides access to the Park, residences above Helen Hunt Falls, emergency services, and Colorado Springs Utilities infrastructure: these are several important public uses of the roadway and bridges. The Public Works Department is responsible for maintaining and replacing the roadway and bridges in the Cañon. The issues below summarize the need for replacement of the bridges in the near future.
- Poor Bridge Condition – The bridges were originally constructed in the early 1900’s so are now about 110 years old. As a result, the bridges are wearing out and nearing the end of their lives.
- Inadequate Bridge Strength – These three bridges are Load Posted for a maximum of 20 tons. This is slightly over half of the standard legal truck weight of 36 tons. As a result, use of the roadway for heavier trucks; such as fire trucks, moving vans, and roadway maintenance vehicles, is limited.
- Existing Safety & Function Issues – North Cheyenne Cañon Road is the primary access to a majority of the Park and residential neighborhood above Helen Hunt Falls. In addition, there have been many changes in the roadway use and vehicle types over the last 100 years. As a result, the constraints created by the narrow existing bridges cause safety and road function issues as demonstrated by the regular vehicle damage to the guardrails and bridge rails.
- Address Flood Damage Risk to Bridges – The existing bridges’ small openings are not large enough to safely pass moderate or large storm events on North Cheyenne Creek. Due to this there is potential for the bridges to either be damaged or lost by a flood. This would require closure of the road until new bridges were constructed or emergency accommodations made.
By proactively replacing these structures before they completely fail, costs can be managed, work can be planned efficiently, impacts to the natural resources, and impacts to the park residents and users can be minimized.
Why these bridges? Why now?
Replacement of the existing bridges was identified as a need in the City’s 2010 Bridge Management Plan, which was developed by Public Works, about 10 years ago. The Evans Avenue over Cheyenne Creek bridge had the highest priority and the replacement was completed in 2016. The three bridges in this project, of the six in the canyon, are the next highest priorities for replacement in North Cheyenne Cañon Park.
The City requested bridge replacement funds in 2012. The Colorado Department of Transportation agreed with the City’s high priority needs for the bridges and therefore awarded $2.4 million to the project. While all the bridges in the canyon are in need of replacement, state grant money awarded is sufficient to replace up to the three bridges. The three state-registered-major-structures with the largest spans were selected for first replacement.
How is the City planning to maintain the beauty, historic nature and cultural character of North Cheyenne Cañon Park?
Public Works and the design team understand that North Cheyenne Cañon is a special place. We also understand that replacement of the existing bridges is going to create changes that may have the potential to impact the look and feel of areas around the bridges. Our “Context Sensitive Design” approach incorporates our commitment to engage the community in addition to several City departments and outside agencies early and throughout the project.
Public Works and the design team coordinated closely with City Parks, Recreation, & Cultural Services staff throughout the project. Relevant elements from the North Cheyenne Cañon Park Master and Management Plan were incorporated in the design, including aesthetic design guidelines, a bridge width of 24-feet (guardrail to guardrail), and accommodation of the new Creekside Trail.
North Cheyenne Cañon Park is listed as a National Historic District. Specific evaluations of the historic and cultural characteristics of and around the bridges, coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office, evaluation of potential impact avoidance measures, and development of a mitigation plan for removal of the existing bridges are incorporated in the project. Historic and cultural consultations and clearances were obtained for all six vehicular bridges in the Cañon.
What will the new bridges look like?
Close coordination with the State Historic and Preservation Office (SHPO) and general design guidelines from the Park Master Plan led to the final replacement designs of the bridges. As much stone as possible from the original bridges will be reused and matching stone will be used to fill the gaps.
Will the new bridges survive flood events?
The bridges were designed to convey as much water as possible without substantially widening or raising the structures. Even with the improved conveyance, during major flood events (e.g. 50 or 100-year storms), it is expected that Cheyenne Creek will over-top the bridges.
Recognizing the floods are unpredictable, the new bridges were designed to remain in place during flood events. Bridge approaches and roads can be repaired more quickly and at lower expense than bridges, allowing for a quicker response time to reopen the Cañon.
Can I get to my home, favorite parking spot or trailhead during construction?
North Cheyenne Cañon is an extremely narrow canyon. As a result, construction requires a full closure of a section of North Cheyenne Canyon Road for all users from the main park entrance near the Starsmore Visitor & Nature Center to the newly resurfaced Powell Lot, above Helen Hunt Falls. The parking lot at Helen Hunt Falls is closed during this time. Those seeking access to Helen Hunt Falls from Gold Camp Road should park in the newly resurfaced Powell Lot. The parking lot is expected to fill quickly and visitors should be prepared to turn around if there are no parking spots. Illegally parked cars will be ticketed. Be prepared that Gold Camp Road is approximately 4 miles of rough-grade gravel road before reaching the Powell Lot. From the Powell Lot, it is about a 0.7 mile trail hike to Helen Hunt Falls.
We understand that the road closure will inconvenience park visitors, residents, and others.
How is the City planning for emergency and first-responder access to the Cañon?
Emergency service access to North Cheyenne Canyon Road will be provided by the contractor for the duration of construction. Access to Gold Camp Road is being maintained during construction and additional plowing and grading will be facilitated as necessary.
Is this being done for shuttles?
This is a City Public Works Project and operations of the Park are not the purview of the City Public Works Department. It is important to note that there are no plans to initiate a shuttle system in North Cheyenne Cañon Park. If at any point in the future safety conditions require significant traffic reduction measures, there will be an open public process to consider such measures.
How is this project being paid for?
The State of Colorado is partially funding this bridge project. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is administering the state funds and is providing oversight of the project. Funding from the Pikes Peak Rural Transit Authority (PPRTA) is also being applied.
What is the construction timeline?
Construction began in September 2021 and is expected to be complete in the summer of 2022, weather and construction dependent. Throughout construction North Cheyenne Canyon Road will be closed to all users, including vehicles, bicyclists and hikers, from the park entrance at the Starsmore Visitor & Nature Center to the newly resurfaced Powell Lot above Helen Hunt Falls. There will be residential access as construction allows.
Past Open House
An open house for North Cheyenne Cañon Bridge Replacement Project was held on Jan. 28, 2020. View the information below to see what was presented at the meeting.
< h4>Meeting Materials and Presentation Boards
- Project Purpose and Need
- Proposed Design
- Public Process