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Inside a 14-passenger Garden of the Gods shuttle last June, the driver for contracted service provider Adventures West steers along the drive north of Gateway Road leading to the underpass to the Visitor & Nature Center. The center was one of the three stops for the 2018 shuttle. The other two were Juniper Way and Gateway Road and the temporary lot at the north end of Rock Ledge Ranch. City Parks has not yet decided whether to bring back the shuttle next summer.
Westside Pioneer photo

Changes, impacts at Garden of the Gods with shuttle, gates, trails, restrooms

Crews work simultaneously this fall on realigning the Foothills Trail past Rock Ledge Ranch (foreground) and the Gateway Trail north of Gateway Road (background, backhoe). A late November completion is seen.
Westside Pioneer file photo
Nov. 1, 2018
       Between shuttle buses, gates, realignment of two trails and planning the construction of two restrooms, the Garden of the Gods is having a busy year.
       Here are recent updates on these topics:
  • Shuttle - Using two 14-passenger buses, a pilot shuttle service attracted roughly 61,000 boardings between May 26 and Sept. 2, Colorado Springs Parks has estimated. The route was a loop connecting the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, Rock Ledge Ranch and a trailhead to the Central Garden.
           In conjunction with the shuttle, which was free to riders, the city designated a temporary parking area at the north end of the Rock Ledge Ranch lot. City statistics show that during the summer the shuttle lot “parked nearly 27,000 vehicles and averaged more than 600 cars on Saturdays alone.”
           The shuttle experiment was part of a Parks Department quest to reduce vehicular traffic in the increasingly popular city park (an estimated 5.8 million visitors a year).
           However, despite a departmental belief that the shuttle was effective, no decisions have been made about offering the service again during 2019's tourist season. The
    Garden of the Gods visitors (background) hike up the trail past the Kissing Camels rock formation last August while in the foreground is a gate - one of nine in all - that Colorado Springs Parks crews were then installing on Juniper Way Loop at Gateway Road. The gate system is now operational.
    Westside Pioneer file photo
    city plans to analyze the 2018 results with its consultant, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, according to Kim King, a lead administrator with City Parks.
           There is also a funding question. This year the bill was split between the Garden of the Gods Foundation and City Parks.
           As part of its car-reduction brainstorming, the department sponsored its second “Motorless Morning” of the year Sunday, Oct. 7, in which motorized vehicles were disallowed in the Garden from 7 a.m. to noon. The motorized ban, which simultaneously encouraged alternative transportation, drew a “positive response” from the public, King said, “and we hope to be able to hold a similar event in the spring.”
  • Gates - After installing gates on nine Garden roadway locations over the past year, City Parks began using them in early October on a nightly basis.
           The purpose is to prevent vehicles from accessing the park after hours.
           The initial feedback was favorable, according to Park Operations Administrator Scott Abbott, with no complaints and “actually a few compliments.”
           The Securitas company has been contracted for $48,000 a year to handle the closure work. City employees open the park back up in the morning, Abbott explained.
           According to previously provided information, the city decided on overnight closures to reduce the chances of criminal activity in the major city park and to
    David Deitemeyer of Colorado Springs Parks answers a question about options for the planned reconstruction of the North Main Parking Lot restroom during the second public meeting on the Garden of the Gods Facilities Improvement Plan in November 2017. Groundbreaking on the project is planned in early 2019.
    Westside Pioneer file photo
    give the city more flexibility in clearing roadways after snowstorms or during special events.
  • Trails - Two long-time trails on the east side of the Garden of the Gods are being realigned to improve their accessibility and user enjoyment in a $440,000 Colorado Springs Parks project that started in September.
           The Foothills Trail, a north-south link through the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site parking lot that parallels 30th Street, is being routed around that lot, as well as the new shuttle parking area, thus “eliminating conflict” with motorized vehicles, said David Deitemeyer, a City Parks planner who's assigned to lead many of the department's projects.
           The affected trail segment will be just under half a mile in length, from Chambers Drive to Gateway Road.
           Included in the Gateway Trail element will be the installation of a wider bridge, with a steel frame and a concrete deck instead of the current unit made of wood, for the trail's new crossing over Camp Creek, he said.
           The project contractor is Langston Concrete, from Canon City. Work is expected to last at least until Thanksgiving.
  • Restrooms - Because the current park restrooms (other than the Visitor Center and Rock Ledge Ranch) are considered woefully inadequate to handle the park's visitors, the city began a public process in 2017 to fix that problem.
           With the needed $1.85 million in funding now obtained, City Parks is creating construction drawings for two of four restrooms that have been planned, according to Deitemeyer.
           One will be a rebuild and expansion of the North Main unit and the other will be a new facility at Parking Lot 7 (on Juniper Way Loop, just southeast of Garden Drive), plans show.
           The goal is to put the drawings out in November for contractors to bid on, with the anticipation of work to start in January and finish before Memorial Day, Deitemeyer said.

    Westside Pioneer article
    (Outdoors: Garden of the Gods)

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