Westside Pioneer Home Page

Pikes Peak can be seen in the distance in a view across Crystal Creek Reservoir. The photo was taken in September 2017 from a spot near the Crystal Reservoir Gift Shop off the Pikes Peak Highway.
Westside Pioneer photo

Early June eyed to start construction on new Pikes Peak Summit House

May 14, 2018
       After three years of planning, public process and financial brainstorming, construction is expected to start on the new Pikes Peak Summit Complex in June.
       A specific date has even been set… or at least penciled in: June 4.
       That's what Jack Glavan, manager of Pikes Peak America's Mountain (PPAM), predicted in a phone interview, “if all goes well.” His optimism is based on the
The current Summit House is seen in 2017 (when the cog railway was still running). A stone wall from 1873 (foreground left) will be retained when the new Summit Complex is built.
Westside Pioneer photo
arrival of the long-awaited U.S. Forest Service's Decision Notice. Delivered in early May, the Notice approved an environmental assessment (EA) for the project.
       In the Notice, Forest Service District Ranger Oscar Martinez, states that “implementation of this decision may begin immediately [and] construction is expected to begin in June 2018.”
       The Summit Complex (as it's been named) will replace the Summit House. Project planners have described the latter structure, built in the early '60s, as “deteriorating.” Completion is anticipated in 2020.
       Glavan pointed out that one more document is technically required - a memorandum of agreement (MOA) including the Forest Service, the State Historic Preservation Office, National Parks Service and certain Indian tribes with history in this region.
       MOA problems are not foreseen. “We're anticipating if all goes well, we can start June 4,” Glavan said.
       The initial work by contractor G.E. Johnson will involve various aspects of site preparation, including the placement of reinforced trailers to provide temporary utilities and the demolition of unneeded buildings.
       The Summit House itself, located a few hundred feet north of the future Summit Complex, will continue to function until its replacement is ready, plans show.
       Before the end of the anticipated building season on the Peak (sometime in October), Glavan thinks Johnson could get as far as pouring foundations for the new structure.
The future layout of the top of Pikes Peak shows a new Summit House, the cog train, parking and other elements, as labeled. The location will be south of the current structure (not shown), which is near the "historic summit house wall" from 1873. This drawing, presented by project consultants in 2016, also shows the cog railway, which has since stopped running.
Rendering by RTA Architects & GWWO, Inc. for the Summit Complex project
Construction will resume in June 2019, with the goal of finishing the new structure sufficiently to allow work inside it over the winter, he explained.
       Work camps on the summit are not planned. Crews will be bussed up the mountain. Knowing the weather, “some days we may not get there,” Glavan said.
       Overall project completion is anticipated by “late summer or early fall” of 2020, he said.
       The city is partnering in the project with the Forest Service, Colorado Springs Utilities (whose current facilities on the Peak are separate from the Summit House) and the U.S. Army (which operates a research lab on the Peak).
       Funding is still an issue, although (as planned) reserve funds from PPAM are enabling work to start. Glavan said that a fundraising campaign is about to go public. The goal is to raise about $15 million of the estimated $50 million total cost.
       Glavan also clarified that the plans for the complex have not changed, despite the cog railway's uncertain future. The train has ceased operation with no promise of coming back. “No decision has been made by the cog, but we do not plan to change our design at this time,” he said.
       This year, PPAM is providing a complimentary shuttle service, which will transport visitors from designated parking lots to the summit (instead of them driving there in their cars). It will be operational from May 31-Sept. 15, a city press release states.
       In past years, an estimated 600,000 visitors annually would visit the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway, the cog railway and the Barr Trail.
       Providing a restaurant and gift shop, the Summit House is operated as a City of Colorado Springs enterprise by PPAM, under a special use permit from the Forest Service.
       The intent is for the Summit Complex to enhance the visitor experience. Plans began taking shape in 2015. At a public meeting in January 2016, the city's two design consultants (RTA and GWWO, Inc./Architects), revealed a design for a multi-level, 26,000-square-foot building, with cutting-edge energy savings and amenities such as enhanced interpretive displays, better views from inside, an improved parking lot, outside pedestrian areas and a clearly defined summit marker.

Westside Pioneer article
(Projects: Summit House)

Would you like to respond to this article? The Westside Pioneer welcomes letters at editor@westsidepioneer.com. (Click here for letter-writing criteria.)