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Upcoming monthlong closure of southwest Colorado Springs intersection needed for water flow, wildfire planning upgrades

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado Springs Utilities is preparing to close an intersection just north of Cheyenne Mountain High School for a month, to perform water system improvements and provide more water capacity to firefighters in the event of a wildfire.

Starting Monday, the utility will close the intersection where Cresta Road meets Preserve Drive and Sundown Drive on the city's southwest side.


Officials said that "soft" closure will be followed by a "hard" closure the following Monday.

On Thursday, crews were "keyholing" -- drilling several feet under the street check the condition of existing water lines to prepare for construction.

The closure allows workers to replace old four-inch water lines with new eight-inch lines that will double the area's water capacity and provide more pressure that will help firefighters.


Officials said that the upgrades will serve residential areas between Bear Creek -- where a wildfire burned in November 2020 -- south to Cheyenne Road, along Cresta in the Sundown and Stratton Preserve neighborhoods.


That area is within the city's wildland-urban interface, where thick forests border various neighborhoods and create a greater risk for wildfires.


The $1.1 million project also includes allowing firefighters to connect to a water storage tank in Bear Creek Park that holds two million gallons -- something that wasn't possible during the nearby Bear Creek Fire in November 2020.


"I had two-million gallons of water sitting there, but I didn't have a direct way to get it from Point A to Point B," said fire department Capt. Mike Smaldino. "They (utilities) basically tied those two together."


Tara McGowan, an engineering supervisor for the utility, confirmed that with Smaldino at a news briefing Thursday.


"Yes, we basically piped (water) from one to the other, so that the water can flow into that southern zone," she explained.

Because of these projects and others along Cresta, officials ask drivers to avoid using it as a route through the area between 21st Street and The Broadmoor.


There have already been issues with drivers trying to pass construction barriers and speeding through side streets in the area, officials said; only local traffic is allowed and officials ask that drivers use 8th Street, farther east, as a main north-south route.


Other projects along Cresta include a new storm drain being installed next to the high school, and a new water main going in slightly farther south.


Officials said that combined, the projects will make it less likely that water will need to be shut off to neighbors during a construction project or repair job, and give firefighters an improved ability to fight wildfires that require four times more water that a structure fire.

Eric Atha, president of the Stratton Preserve Homeowners Association, said the projects are a big relief for neighbors.


"Everybody is totally on board," he said. "Not worried a bit about a little inconvenience. The big inconvenience would be a fire ripping through this area, and losing your home."

Officials plan to finish all of the projects before school resumes next month.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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