MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - As wildfire season approaches, it's not the only natural disaster concerning people - it could also mean flooding. Flood preparations along Highway 24, at Ute Pass, are nearly complete.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is putting the finishing touches on its new culvert. C-DOT said it hopes the cement box culvert stops debris from running over the highway. Rich Gonser, project engineer, said the culvert is eight times larger than the previous metal culvert.
"It's 10-foot high and 24-foot wide," he said.
Gonser said if all goes as planned, everything will run through the new culvert, underneath the road.
So - is C-DOT prepared for rain before work on the culvert is finished? C-DOT crews told KRDO yes. To ensure everything runs smoothly, a new flash flood protocol has been put in place for Ute Pass, complete with trigger points - indicators that the road needs to close.
"If we get a quarter-inch of rain in the gauges, if we get a flash flood warning issued from the National Weather Service, or if we just actually see any type of debris coming down on the highway, " those are the trigger points," said Kenneth Quintana, a C-DOT highway maintenance supervisor.
Later this summer, Gonser said, a debris basin will be built farther up Waldo Canyon. It will stop all trees, rocks and branches from flowing downstream.