If the Manitou Incline remains on your bucket list, you may have just a couple more weeks to check it off.
The Incline is about to shut down for a $1.6 million overhaul. Though not official yet, our partners at The Gazette have learned Aug. 17 may be the last day it will be open for use. A landscape architect with the Colorado Springs parks department told The Gazette they are timing the closure with the conclusion of the famed Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, to allow runners to utilize the Incline for training leading up to the race.
If all goes as planned, four months of repairs will begin on Aug. 18.
When 11 News first reported the planned closure in May, regulars were not happy to hear the news.
"Super frustrating," Kalynn Casey said. "That's probably the best time to do it [the Incline]...it's the peak of summer, everybody wants to be out hiking."
But Colorado Springs officials say the project is critical for the safety of hikers in the long run. More than 20 percent of the Incline--a former railroad originally constructed in 1907--is severely damaged. After the railroad shut down in 1990, the existing rail ties were left unmaintained.
"Unmanaged trespass and use of the Incline have resulted in significant erosion on the mountainside and dangerous trail conditions," the city said in a news release.
The Incline "Trail Enhancement Project" seeks to improve safety and long-term sustainability. The city says work will include replacing damaged retaining walls, cleaning debris and stabilizing existing rail ties. Engineers will also install new drainage structures to help reduce erosion.
Though locals notoriously disregarded the "No Trespassing" sign with little consequence for years when the 2,000-foot climb was still illegal, the city told The Gazette that such brazen behavior will not be tolerated this time around. Trespassers will likely be handed a $100 fine; The Gazette reports that the city is working to arrange on-site patrols during the repairs.
"I am looking for an officer to be actually physically on the Incline, in a spot that changes periodically," parks department architect Sarah Bryarly told The Gazette.
The city says that trespassing will also slow crews' progress, in turn causing the Incline to be closed longer.
Some hikers told 11 News they don't want the city to go overboard with repairs.
"I hope they don't do too much to take away that jagged quality of it, 'cause that's why we all love it, because it is, it's not something that's regular," Colin McAllister, who hikes the Incline weekly, said.
The city says they are looking at the long run; doing upkeep now to allow future users to enjoy it.
The project is expected to be completed late this year.
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