New plan could close quarry in Colorado Springs mountain

The Oak Valley Ranch neighborhood below the Pikeview Quarry is shown in this Dec. 2, 2008 file photo. Photo by Carol Lawrence

An eyesore that dominates the mountains west of Colorado Springs will one day be re-vegetated and handed over for public use if a plan for a new quarry is approved in the next year. 

A proposed facility between Colorado Springs and Penrose off Hitch Rack Ranch Road could lead to the closure of the Pikeview Quarry in as little as five years, said Deborah Hileman, a spokeswoman for Transit Mix Concrete Company.

The project depends on a permitting process that would require the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety and El Paso County to sign off on a change in land use on the almost 400 acres west of Highway 115 north of Penrose.

"We believe we will be able to close Pikeview about 10 years sooner than if we don't get the permit (to build the Hitch Rack facility)," Hileman said.

More information will be provided during a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Hall.

Wally Erickson, an environmental protection specialist with the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, said his office received comments from 137 concerned people after Transit Mix's application for the Hitch Rack Quarry was submitted March 8.

"It's an opportunity for them to meet us," he said. "If they have to vent, it will be a chance for them to vent."

Pikeview Quarry, which was built in 1903, fell under scrutiny in 2008 and 2009 when a pair of rockslides sent an estimated 3 million tons of rock crashing down the quarry walls. The facility closed while geologists and engineers analyzed the mine and Transmit Mix submitted a plan for safely resuming its work. The quarry reopened in May 2013.

Erickson said the Pikeview and Hitch Rack lands are not comparable because the Pikeview quarry was built well before modern rules for quarries were established.

"I'm hesitant to make any comparison of Pikeview to the Hitch Rack," he said.

And, unlike the Pikeview, the Hitch Rack Quarry will be tucked behind the terrain, completely out of public view. The property off Hitch Rack Ranch Road is privately owned. Hileman said Transit Mix would lease the land instead of acquiring ownership.

Hileman said Transit Mix expects the permitting process to be complete by early 2017, allowing the company to start the first phase of the new quarry construction by the middle of that year.

Erickson refused to give a timetable for permitting because the project is in the preliminary, technical review phase. He said he and his team will consider the public comment and analyze Transit Mix's plans. If they find issues, the deficiencies will have to be addressed before the process moves forward.

"We're in the middle of the review," Erickson said. "We are not in a position to speculate how close we are to the end."

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