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The Chestnut Street roadway bridge (at top with a traffic sign) was built on compacted dirt over this concrete culvert. As seen here, its 24-foot width forms an underpass, with a concrete path and the channel for South Douglas Creek. However, the underpass remains legally off-limits to users.
Westside Pioneer photo

2 years after Chestnut bridge replaced, its trail underpass still closed to users

Nov. 21, 2018
       Over two years ago, on Nov. 12, 2016, Colorado Springs Engineering opened the Chestnut Street bridge replacement to traffic. This allowed the street to reopen just north of Vondelpark Drive
A Colorado Springs Parks barricade and sign on the south side of Ellston Street, east of Chestnut Street, denies access to would-be users of the trail option going under Chestnut Street.
Westside Pioneer photo
after a nearly 15-month closure, caused by a sinkhole issue.
       The bridge consists of about 20 feet of compacted dirt over a 140-foot-long, 36-foot-wide bridge culvert consisting of 28 concrete arches, each weighing 27½ tons.
       But an amenity that was advertised as part of the $3.5 million project is still on hold.
       That's the Sinton Trail underpass. It was in the bridge project to give trail users an option other than the long-time method of crossing Chestnut Street at grade.
       It's not that it wasn't built. Paralleling the channel for South Douglas Creek, a 12-foot-wide concrete path goes through the bridge culvert, as designed.
       On either side, a gravel trail lines up with the path. To the west, it goes about 200 feet before reaching the Sinton Trail in Douglas Creek Open Space; to the east, it's the same distance to Ellston Street's sidewalk.
       The problem with the underpass route is legally using it. At either of those would-be Sinton Trail connections (in the open space and at Ellston Street), there's a barricade with a sign announcing “Trail Closed.” No
Two users (in background) can be seen on the connector trail leading up from the west side of the concrete path through the Chestnut Street underpass (a wing wall for which can be seen in the background at left). According to a City Parks official, the the east side of the underpass has the easement issue; however, the connector on the Westside also has a "trail closed" sign in front of what was built to be its access from and to the Douglas Creek Open Space.
Westside Pioneer photo
explanation is provided.
       The Westside Pioneer asked City Engineering about the closure, but was referred to Colorado Springs Parks, which has jurisdiction over city trails.
       Fielding the question for Parks was Steve Bodette, the department's capital projects coordinator. In an e-mail, he provided two reasons - lack of money but mainly lack of an easement on the east side. He provided an explanation about the money (see below), but not why the easement has been delayed - even though it's been nearly three years since the city confirmed the design for the trail underpass.
       Here is Bodette's full e-mail reply:
       “The trail under Chestnut is currently closed for a couple of reasons. The main reason for keeping the trail closed is because Parks needs to obtain a trail easement from the adjacent property owner. Right now, if we were to allow people to
In a construction milestone, one of the 28 concrete arches that make up the culvert for the Chestnut Street bridge replacement is lowered into place in August 2016. Also visible are the concrete path for the trail and rocks for the South Douglas Creek channel. The bridge opened that November and the creek now flows underneath it, but the underpass route remains legally closed.
Westside Pioneer file photo
travel through the underpass, they would be trespassing on private property as they exited the tunnel to the east.
       “The second reason the trail is closed is due to reallocating the funds from this project to another one that was ready to go to construction. It did not make sense to not be able to complete either project, so the decision was made to build a different trail instead of waiting on the easement necessary for the Sinton trail to be constructed. The Sinton trail does have an at grade crossing at Chestnut and Ellston. This has been the designated trail route for many years.
       “When the bridge collapsed, it did provide Parks the opportunity to install a trail through the culvert for future use. So we are now working to obtain the easement, but do not have a date of when that will take place.”
       Easements aside, it's evident that the barricades can be walked around. A father and son were seen doing so one recent afternoon. “We've heard they were going to open it sometime, but I got tired of waiting,” the father responded to the obvious question.

Westside Pioneer article
(Outdoors: General)

Shot from the concrete pathway, this photo shows the inside of the Chestnut Street underpass looking east, with the South Douglas Creek channel at the right.
Westside Pioneer photo

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