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Parks leaders eyeing December opening for N. Cheyenne Cañon Park

Rock scaling, road repair helping N. Cheyenne Ca?on Park

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It will take quite a makeover to North Cheyenne Cañon Park ready for the public by the end of the year, but that's what the city of Colorado Springs and the U.S. Forest Service are both hoping for.

The park, on the southwest end of Colorado Springs, has been closed since torrential rains in September caused flooding and damage to roads and trails.

Several area roads, including Upper Gold Camp, Lower Gold Camp and Old Stage had portions washed away.

"The rain overwhelmed the landscape, it overwhelmed the drainage systems of roads," said Jeff Hovermale with the U.S. Forest Service.

Engineers are building back portions of the roads that were washed out by the storms. In some places, the holes are 100 feet. It's an unprecedented repair job.

"We've never had to rebuild a road like this-- not to this scale on forest roads," said Hovermale.

Engineers said the road work on Lower Gold Camp Road costs around $1.5 million. Money for the project comes from federal grants tied to emergency road repair.

"So far things have gone pretty smoothly," said Cait Cuddihy, an engineer on the project.

Part of the material being used to rebuild the road comes from rocks from other damaged portions of the park.

Rock-scaling work is going on this week. City parks leaders said a rock scaling company has identified three trouble areas where they feel the floods compromised the integrity of the mountain side.

The work crews are using airbags to jar the rock loose so it can come down in a controlled environment and without the public in the way.

"They can slide that in there and they put compressed air into that bag and that will bring down some of that rock," said Chris Lieber, park development manager for the city's Parks

If all goes well, the park could reopen sometime in December.

So far, work crews have benefited from most warm and dry weather since those September floods. If that continues it would go a long way towards staying on schedule.

According to a parks spokeswoman for the city of Colorado Springs is spending $20,000 on the rock-scaling work. She added that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is picking up 75 percent of that cost and the state is paying for another 12.5 percent.

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