COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Parks & Recreation Department had hoped to finish an improvement project in popular North Cheyenne Cañon Park and reopen the main road by Memorial Day weekend, but wet weather has delayed that plan.
As a result, on one of its busiest days of the year, the road will remain closed weekdays through June 18 (weather permitting), as city officials announced in a release late Friday afternoon.
"I don't like it," said Brett Edwards, of Colorado Springs. "We were looking to go hiking up there on Mt. Cutler, but you couldn't do it. I was thinking it was Sunday and it would be open. I didn't think it was the holiday."
The road has been closed since May 3 so that workers could expand and pave a gravel parking lot above Helen Hunt Falls. The lot still must be striped to mark individual parking spaces that will increase from 75 to 92. Drainage improvements also are part of the work there.
According to the release, the parking lot will be accessible starting Wednesday, June 2, but only for hikers and cyclists via Lower Gold Camp Road. A boulder that had blocked the road for several weeks was removed Friday.
Many visitors use North Cheyenne Cañon Road to reach Helen Hunt Falls and the parking lot which provides access to other trails. The road provides several places for vehicles to pull over and enjoy scenic views, trail access and picnic areas.
The majority of people hiking or biking in the area Monday said that they like the parking lot, and wish that both roads could be closed to traffic more often.
"I feel like there are other ways to access (them), via hiking up trails," said Sarah Rawley. "We have so many places to recreate here in the Springs, there's no shortage of it. So seeing that (the closure is) temporary, I personally see no problem with it."
During the extended closure, workers will use the opportunity to complete other improvements in the park:
· Americans with Disability Act (ADA) improvements at Helen Hunt Falls, including a new accessible plaza area between the building and waterfall, a new accessible ramp and addition of accessible parking stalls.
· Parking improvements at the Bruin Inn Picnic Area that will help formalize the pull-off parking, add some stalls and improve pedestrian flow crossing the street. There will be a connection to the Daniels Pass Trail here.
· The new Daniels Pass Trailhead will be completed, providing 12 designated parking spaces. Bridge abutments will also be installed in preparation for two new trail bridges on the Daniels Pass Trail, which are scheduled to be installed later this summer.
· The ADA accessible parking stall and ramp at the restroom building in South Cañon will be repaired.
City officials thanked the public for its patience, calling the upgrades "the safest, most efficient and most cost- effective manner to carry out these much-needed improvements, and your park experience will benefit in the long run.”