Following three months of closure and $1.5 million in repairs and upgrading, the Manitou Incline opened to an eager crowd Dec. 5. Officials involved in the project spoke to the crowd before the first hikers made their way to the Incline’s peak.
Speakers included Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder; Krithika Prashant, senior communications specialist for the City of Colorado Springs; Project Manager Sarah Bryarly and Colorado Springs City Councilor Jill Gaebler.
According to Bryarly, about 22 percent of the Incline was renovated, with the steepest portions identified as needing the most immediate attention.
Bryarly said 32 retaining walls were constructed to help alleviate erosion, and water chases were installed to efficiently move rainfall away from the Incline.
“The hillside may fall down, but the retaining walls will still be in place,” Bryarly quipped.
She said the fitness attraction has gotten even steeper due to construction.
“I guarantee you will still need your hands to climb up a couple of the ties,” she said. “It’s still extremely challenging in spots and some places have gotten even steeper than [a 68 percent grade]. Your calves will be burning when you get done with the trail.”
According to Prashant, the city is happy with the work turned in by Timberline Landscaping, the Colorado Springs company contracted for the project.
“The city is very pleased with how the Incline work has turned out,” Prashant told the Business Journal. “Timberline Landscaping did an outstanding job completing a monumental project in such a short time frame. With all construction projects there are minor tweaks and modifications that are made; however, the project proceeded as we had planned and we feel the work completed is sustainable and will secure the Incline for years to come.”
Prashant said user safety was one of the project’s primary drivers.
“The trail is safer for [users] to hike on. The rebar and T-post that was used to secure the ties has been removed. The collection of debris within the erosion channel next to the Incline has been removed and the area has been restored. … The ties have been secured to minimize the movement. The combination of all these elements will help stabilize and protect the Incline, creating a more enjoyable experience for the public.”
Prashant said additional work will be addressed as funding becomes available.
She added that conversations involving how to manage the Manitou Incline have been in the works since the 1980s, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the three property owners — Colorado Springs Utilities, the cog railway and the U.S. Forest Service — as well as the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs “were able to work out an agreement that would be beneficial to all properties involved.”
Great Outdoors Colorado, or GOCO, funded entirely through proceeds from the Colorado Lottery, contributed $350,000 to the project. The organization was represented at the reopening by Local Government Program Manager Jake Houston, who was making his first trip up the Incline that day.
“This turnout today shows exactly why this is a project we want to be a part of,” Houston said. “It’s clearly a Colorado icon and something we’re very proud to stick a sign on.”
For more information, visit manitouincline.com.