The increasing popularity of the Incline is taking a toll on its long-term viability.
With an average of nearly 800 visitors per day, the condition of the Incline has deteriorated to the point of requiring a serious intervention.
“There is [a lot] of exposed metal, rebar, and old piping that makes the Incline unsafe. It needs some work,” according to Ryan Hammes, CC’s Director of Outdoor Education and an Incline enthusiast himself.
Before 1990, the Incline was the private property of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. For 80 years, trains transported thousands of people to the top of Mount Manitou.
By 1990, the cost skyrocketed, and unpredictable rockslides posed a danger to the company’s success, so the Incline was closed.
A 20-year land dispute ensued that was finally settled last year. Neglect of the Incline during the land dispute contributed to its current state of disrepair.
Luckily, several local groups have come together to remedy the situation.
Incline Friends is a nonprofit organization that began in 2011 in response to the creation of a strategic plan to open the Incline for legal use.
Incline Friends works with the City of Colorado Springs Park and Recreation Department to “plan fundraisers and volunteer work days on the Incline,” said Steve Bremner, an executive committee member with Incline Friends.
According to Sarah Bryarly, Landscaping Architect and Project Manager for the City of Colorado Springs, the estimated cost of repair stands at $1 million.
There is a significant amount of work to be done, including stabilizing old railroad ties, improving drainage structures, and unclogging pipes.
Repair financing comes from a variety of sources, including grant money, funds from the city of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities, and revenue from parking fees at the Barr Trail trailhead.
Incline Friends has also played a significant role in fundraising through the Indy Give campaign, which is a donation-matching fundraiser sponsored by the Colorado Springs Independent each fall.
“The Friends are trying to raise $200,000-400,000 through the Indy Give campaign,” said Bryarly.
If the Friends meet their goal, a significant portion of the $1 million contract will be paid for.
Despite the administrative frenzy of Incline repair, a consistent experience is the goal of both parties.
“We want to stabilize the Incline without modifying its character,” said Bryarly. “We hope users won’t experience too many differences after repairs are done.”