MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - Officials said there's a chance -- although a small one -- that upcoming repairs to the Manitou Incline could be delayed because of an expected deal involving federal money that has yet to be finalized.
The planned repairs will be the third phase of renovations to the heavily used and popular trail, following similar projects in 2014 and 2016, but the first to receive federal funding.
Sarah Bryarly, of the Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department, which manages the Incline, said the city was chosen to receive $2 million to repair trail damage, protect a Colorado Springs Utilities water line and prevent future damage.
"We're all just making sure everything in the process is done as required," she said. "The process is a bit more complicated when federal dollars are involved. I'm confident we'll get the money, but there's a chance repairs could be delayed until next year."
Previous Incline repairs followed a tight schedule: begin in mid-August and end in early December before winter arrives.
Bryarly said a delay in funding could push the project to next spring, possibly extending the time that hikers would lose access to the Incline.
That possibility drew mixed reaction from Incline users Wednesday.
"I think it would be worth the wait," said Miller Eichelberger, of Texas. "If people are patient, it'll become better. And why not be patient if the federal government wants to pay for it?"
Jay Clark of Colorado Springs says patience goes only so far.
"People have come to expect to use the Incline," he said. "For many people it's a form of exercise, it's fun, it's a habit. To be without it for three months or more is terrible."
The upcoming repair work will focus on the upper third -- the steepest section -- of the trail, on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service.
The repairs also require an environmental assessment by the agency, and a consultation with the state's historic preservation office.
Because of the funding delay, the city has to wait on soliciting bids from contractors interested in doing the repairs.