North Cheyenne Cañon Bridge Replacement Project

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Background

Three vehicular bridges on North Cheyenne Road in North Cheyenne Cañon Park will be redesigned and reconstructed in order to provide continued community use of the roadway, address public safety, and provide adequate emergency service access to the Park users and neighborhoods surrounding the Park. 

The project will establish guidelines for all six vehicular bridges in the Cañon.  The bridges will be 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 will be 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 Plan can be viewed at: https://coloradosprings.gov/nccmasterplan.

The City anticipates construction to begin no earlier than Fall 2020 with the specific timing dependent on funding, resources and weather. 

To ensure compliance with bridge standards, regulations, funding sources and the Park Master Plan, the following Givens form the project parameters.   

View Project Givens

Project Map

The three state-registered-major-structures with the largest spans selected for first replacement are indicated by the turquoise dots on the map.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do the bridges in North Cheyenne Cañon Park need to be replaced?

North Cheyenne Cañon 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 are coordinating closely with City Parks, Recreation, & Cultural Services staff throughout the project.  Relevant elements from the North Cheyenne Cañon Park Master and Management Plan will be 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 will be obtained for all six vehicular bridges in the Cañon.

Our goal is to develop an approach for the design features that will be used for replacement of all of the existing roadway bridges in the Park.  In addition to developing bridge aesthetic and historic feature guidelines, safety, function, and administrative requirements will simultaneously be addressed.  The bridges will be 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
  • Reasonably comply with Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and City standards.

What will the new bridges look like?

Conceptual design work including aesthetic attribute option development is currently underway. It is expected the ongoing coordination with the State Historic and Preservation Office (SHPO) will include direction on some aesthetic bridge components.  The Park Master Plan also provides relevant general design guidelines.  The intent will be to blend the bridge appearances with the Park.  Sketches of the bridges will be available at the project open house currently anticipated in late August 2019. 

Will the new bridges survive flood events?

The bridges will be 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 will be designed to remain in place during flood events; however, damage to the approaches and road would be expected.  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.  Early evaluation of maintaining public traffic flow during construction identified several challenges because of the limited space and the commitment to minimizing construction impacts to the creek, vegetation and rock formations adjacent to the bridges.  As a result, we believe construction of these bridges will necessitate closure of parts of North Cheyenne Cañon Road for several months.

We understand that road closure will inconvenience park visitors, residents, and others.  The project team is engaging with residents and park users to incorporate their ideas and needs in planning for closures.  The goal of this effort is to inform the community and develop an approach for traffic management that can be reasonably tolerated while allowing a contractor to construct the bridges as effectively and with the least environmental impact.

As part of our early efforts to identify issues and develop access options, Gold Camp Road has been identified as a key transportation link that must be maintained during bridge construction.  The City has committed to maintaining access via Gold Camp Road during construction with additional plowing and grading.  In addition, to allow access to the Mount Cutler and Mount Musocco trails, critical sections of the master planned Creekside Trail and Daniels Pass are anticipated to be completed before bridge construction to maintain non-motorized access to these popular destinations.  As the project proceeds, we anticipate other measures may also be incorporated into the bridge replacement effort.

How is the City planning for emergency and first-responder access to the Cañon?

It is clear that providing emergency service access during construction will be necessary.  The City and consultant team recognize the risks due to potential fires, floods, and injury.  As a result, we have already begun discussions with emergency service providers (police, fire, ambulance, search and rescue). 

Details of providing emergency access are currently being developed.  However, it is normal for the City to require the contractor to  coordinate with emergency services to develop an access plan and maintain efficient emergency response throughout the construction period.  We are anticipating additional measures will also be required due to the limited number of ways to access this area.

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. 

When will the bridge construction start?

The City anticipates construction to begin no earlier than Fall 2020 with the specific timing somewhat funding dependent.

Stay Informed

Open House

An Open House to obtain public feedback is anticipated in late August 2019.

Notifications

Sign-up for the latest project information and notices of the Open House by sending an email requesting to be added to the project database to: NCCBridgeReplacement@gmail.com

Participate in a Focus Group

Please join Public Works and the engineering team to learn about the technical engineering, historic and ecological complexities that will influence the bridge designs.  With this technical foundation, Focus Groups will discuss and provide input on the aesthetic aspects and construction impacts of the bridge projects.  Focus group participation will include a site tour and a focused discussion.  Please anticipate two separate 2-hour sessions in June 2019. 

If you are interested in participating in a focus group session, please send an email to  NCCBridgeReplacement@gmail.comWe will contact you by email which will include dates and times of meetings. Don’t delay as groups will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

Project Contact

City Project Manager
Aaron Egbert, PE
719/385-5465