US Highway 24 Fountain Creek and Waldo Canyon
Evaluating damage and mitigation options after devastating fires and severe flooding in Colorado.
During the summer of 2012, Colorado experienced extremely devastating fires, including the Waldo Canyon fire that burned over 15,000 acres in the Colorado Springs area and along US Highway 24. Over 32,000 residents were evacuated from the area and the fire claimed more than 350 homes.
Before this fire, the stormwater runoff from areas upstream of US Highway 24 was safely conveyed. The fire substantially altered the watershed hydrology and caused runoff rates and associated fire scar debris to increase dramatically. The existing culvert was not able to handle the increased volume of water—a situation exacerbated by debris buildup in the culvert that caused even minor rain events to overtop onto the highway. These overtopping events caused extensive roadway damage, frequent road closures, public safety concerns, and a fatality following the August 2013 flood. Within 3 days of the damaging effects of the August flood, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) initiated an emergency response project, and RESPEC was hired to evaluate the damage and mitigation options with CDOT engineers. RESPEC was tasked with designing solutions to eliminate roadway overtopping, stabilize the channel on Fountain Creek, and reduce debris impacts to downstream areas including the town of Manitou Springs.
This project had many challenges, including collaborating with multiple, diverse agencies; obtaining funding for streams; and working with the design and review processes as the situation moved from developing emergency solutions to permanent solutions.