Colorado Springs officials stood beside a dry Camp Creek near Garden of the Gods on Wednesday morning, showing off the completed first phase of a three-tier flood mitigation project that will eventually remove more than 200 residents from the flood plain.
"We've put in 32 drop structures, which has basically stair-stepped the creek through the park," project engineer Mike Chaves said. "That should slow down the water and alleviate sediment that was moving downstream and plugging up the 31st Street culverts."
Those drop structures are scattered through almost a mile of Camp Creek as it winds from the Glen Eyrie property at the north end of the park, past Rock Ledge Ranch and into the Pleasant Valley neighborhood to the south. The work began in late August and was finished a month ahead of schedule, city spokeswoman Kim Melchor said.
When completed, the project, which will include a large sediment detention pond near Glen Eyrie and reconstruction of the concrete channel through Pleasant Valley, will cost about $35 million. Chaves said Phase 2 will be the detention pond construction project and is expected to begin by late winter or early spring, "before the rains come."
Chaves said the pond will be three times larger than a temporary pond built shortly after floodwaters poured off the Waldo Canyon burn scar, roared through Queens Canyon and flooded the neighborhood south of Garden of the Gods in 2013 and 2014.
The first phase cost $1.1 million and is expected to remove about 120 people from the flood plain. Phase 2 will carry an $8 million price tag, Chaves said. Both will be paid for with grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and matching funds from the city of Colorado Springs, Melchor said.
The third part of the project is in the design stage, and city officials are exploring possible money sources, Chaves said. The reconstructed channel along 31st Street is expected to be widened with a more natural look and include a biking and walking path next to the creek.