Creek restoration near downtown Colorado Springs aims to protect critical utility infrastructure

Mike Procell/KRCC News
Looking north along Monument Creek from just north of downtown Colorado Springs. March 2024

A roughly 3,500-foot section of Monument Creek just north of downtown Colorado Springs is currently undergoing a stabilization project. The section has seen severe erosion over the last 20 years that has significantly lowered the water channel in that area by as much as several vertical feet.

Several city water lines, including a large sewer main, run along the bottom of the channel on the east side of the creek. The main purpose of the project is to help prevent further erosion and thus protect the utility infrastructure located in the area.

"The fear is that the creek, like in a large flood, would erode laterally as well as up and down," said Jason Messamer, an engineer with Colorado Springs Utilities and lead technical designer on the project. He said the erosion could then seep into the nearby properties or affect the infrastructure.

Crews with Colorado Springs Utilities are bringing in sand and soil to help fill in lowered areas. They're also installing several structures constructed of boulders in areas where the river noticeably drops. The boulders help dissipate the energy of water when the flow is running high, according to Messamer.

Additionally, new vegetation will be planted along the banks to help minimize further erosion in this riparian area.

Part of the project also includes preserving and protecting historic flagstone and other rock structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps that date back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration.

Mike Procell / KRCC News
Looking south along Monument Creek towards downtown Colorado Springs including some of the historic flagstone work on the east bank. Feb.2024

The work requires heavy machinery. In order to get the equipment to the worksite, crews built ramps descending from the Mesa Avenue bridge. Once the project is complete, Messamer said these dirt work ramps will be paved and become more permanent to allow access to the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail that borders the creek.

Work in the creek should be complete by late spring. Work on the underpass as well as planting is likely to continue into the summer months.

Beyond that, the city will continue to monitor the new vegetation for several years to ensure it has taken proper root.