Residents and tourists alike have temporarily lost access to one of Colorado Springs major attractions as construction on the Manitou Incline began in mid-August.
On Monday, Aug. 18, the City of Colorado Springs officially closed the Incline to begin what the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services division of the city government called “a much-needed facelift.”
“The Incline has never been maintained because it has been owned by three different owners,” said Saray Bryarly, the landscape architect and project manager for the Colorado Springs Recreation and Cultural Service Department. “So in 2011, a Master Plan was developed and examined by the city to determine what needed to be repaired.”
Since then, the city has raised $1.7 million for both planning and construction, hired Ingenuity Engineers to complete construction documents, and sent workers from Timberline Landscaping up the famous peak to begin repairs.
According to the Manitou Incline Site Development and Management Plan, the key environmental issues this project will address are erosion, habitat fragmentation due to human disturbance, and restoration and re-vegetation.
“Mainly we’re trying to slow down the velocity of water and shed down the amount sliding down the Incline,” said Bryarly. “We need to get it out and over into vegetation which by nature will slow down the water.”
In an effort to do so, Timberline the replacement of damaged retaining walls, cleanup of rebar and loose debris, construction of additional drainage structures, and the stabilization of existing ties and surrounding slopes.
In 2011, when the Master Plan was published, 22 percent of the trail required significant modification to improve safety and long-term sustainability, whereas 32 percent required some modification and 46 percent was in acceptable condition. Since then, the percentage of the severely damaged portions of the trail has increased.
“After the rains from this past July, the percentage of trail that needed repairs probably increased to over 50 percent,” Bryarly said. “Unfortunately, the money we raised did not account for that, so repairs will only be made on what we have money for.”
Despite this, the Incline will, for the first time, have consistent maintenance now that the ownership has been handed to the city.
“A lot of the maintenance will fall on the Incline Friends volunteer projects and getting assistance from the community,” said Bryarly. “We are starting at an improved state because of the current construction, so we will be able to go in and improve one thing at a time rather than everything.”
The Incline is expected to reopen in December before snow can hinder construction.