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Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby DScott49 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:53 am

Hey all, did not attend the meeting last night but here is the summary from our local paper here in Colorado Springs:
Dr. Dave

Possible night closure of Incline raises ire as draft plan unveiled
Posted by: DNP on Oct 21, 2010

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The future of the Manitou Incline could include small terraces in the steepest sections that would act as erosion control and rest stops where hikers can catch their breath.

It could include a new trail down the north side to relieve traffic on Barr Trail. And it could include new rules, such as a ban on pets and closure at night.

All these possibilities were laid out in a planning meeting at Mantiou Springs City Hall Thursday night, where about 50 people gathered to see the details of a development and management plan to legalize the wildly popular Manitou Incline.

To see the plan, visit www.manitousprings-co.gov.

The Incline lies largely on private property and is officially off limits to hikers, yet a recent study suggests that 300,000 to 500,000 people are climbing the trail every year. To come up with a way to legitimize what may be the most popular hike in the region, Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs have held a series of public comment and planning meetings throughout the summer and fall.

Not everyone at the meeting was happy with what they heard. Especially controversial was closing the trail at night. People regularly climb the Incline before or after work, often starting or finishing in the dark.

On group comment sheets handed out to the crowd after the presentation, night closure was universally panned. “Bad idea, too limiting, unenforceable,” one comment read.

The plan is not final, so organizers can amend it based on comments and feasibility.

A final plan, including cost of the project, will be presented to the public at a meeting 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 20 at Manitou City Hall. If there is no significant opposition, the plan will then go to the city councils of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs for formal approval and implementation.

It is an open question, however, when hikers finally be able to scale the Incline legally.

“I really don’t know,” said Kurt Schroeder, acting director of the Colorado Springs parks department said at the end of the meeting “Not soon enough. But I’m excited for that day.”



About the Incline

It was operated for nearly a century as a tourist train before the rails were torn out in 1990.

In the years following, the stairway of 2,744 ties became one of the most popular workouts in the region.

This summer, Colorado Springs officials estimated 100,000 hikers climbed the Incline every year. After a 15 day electronic count in September revealed 23,562 hikers, the city now estimates the annual traffic is between 300,000 and 500,000 hikers.

Plans to open the trail to public hiking have been complicated by the fact that the Incline runs across land owned or managed by the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Colorado Springs Utilities, and the U.S. Forest Service.



Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/manitou-90535-incline-rises.html#ixzz1316VrOeX
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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby CO Native » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:22 am

Ahh the Gazette now clarified something that makes their estimates more reasonable....

After a 15 day electronic count in September revealed 23,562 hikers, the city now estimates the annual traffic is between 300,000 and 500,000 hikers.


That makes more sense than the article that said they counted that many in the month of September and came up with that estimate.
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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:36 am

My observations on the plan and the meeting:

The core of the plan for the first phase seems well thought out for the most part. It includes:
1. Creating an "owning" organization and a Friends group to run and fundraise for the project
2. Making one trailhead, at the base of the incline at the back of the Cog lot, with a restroom and bike rack, but no public parking.
3. Charging for the Barr Trail lot in a fashion that will encourage long-term users to use it. Also close the social trail that goes straight up from the Barr lot to the incline, and fix up the trail from the Barr lot to the base of the incline (for use by descending users mostly).
4. Making some parking along Ruxton 3-hour limit (and free at first), and lower down residents-only. Also, the Cog will make about 40 of their spots available from 7 to 9 am (probably with a fee).
5. Fixing the worst parts of the incline (about 23% of the steps, mostly in the middle and upper parts).
6. Cleaning up and maintaining the social trail that goes left off the top. Build a new trail that will go right at the top, to move some of the downhill runner traffic off the Barr Trail.
7. Establishing rules for use: dawn to dusk only, no pets, use at your own risk, etc.

Most people like the trail improvement suggestions. Mixed reaction to the Barr-Cog connector trail.

Nobody liked the dawn-to-dusk restriction, so expect that to disappear. The crowd was split about 50-50 on allowing dogs.

The new exit trail, social trail improvements, and incline corridor fixes are all in the first phase. This is a practical matter, since there is a Forest Service environmental assessment process (NEPA) that will have to be followed for any of these, and it's best to do it all at once. Many people liked the new exit trail. The existing road that heads west to Barr Trail seems not to be part of the plan.

Parking is the biggest problem, and nobody was very happy with losing 100 free spots from the status quo. There is a possibility of building a new lot on private property (use possibly donated by the owner) north of Ruxton below the Iron Springs Chateau, but some Manitou residents thought this was a pipe dream. Long term, the hope is to have some kind of transit from elsewhere in town, as part of a Manitou-wide system, but it will be a while. Other long term ideas included usage fees, group event fees, etc.

Overall, I think there's a pretty good chance that much of this will happen, provided the agreement to open can get by the three entities involved (Cog, FS, Springs Utilities). The official opening probably won't happen by next summer, though; these things move slowly.

The final plan is supposed to be presented at another meeting on January 20th.
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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:42 am

CO Native wrote:Ahh the Gazette now clarified something that makes their estimates more reasonable....

After a 15 day electronic count in September revealed 23,562 hikers, the city now estimates the annual traffic is between 300,000 and 500,000 hikers.


That makes more sense than the article that said they counted that many in the month of September and came up with that estimate.

It was actually from mid-day Friday, September 10, through the following two weeks and three weekends, and half a day Monday at the end, so it's really 16 full days and two half days. They showed a graph of their data (collected in 15-minute intervals), which was interesting, and they said the data would be made available somehow. Some of their observations:

Traffic was heaviest from 10 am to noon, and from 1 to 3 pm. This was a surprise, since the expectation was that there were more early-morning and after-work users. Friday through Sunday were the biggest days.

They counted traffic in both directions; downward traffic was about 30% of upward.

They couldn't distinguish dogs from people, and also couldn't tell how many people just walked up through the sensor, then turned around and left.

There was a lot more traffic on Monday the 13th than Monday the 20th. There didn't seem to be any difference in weather to account for it. The peak days they recorded about 260 passages.

The sensor was attached to the No Trespassing sign, which many found ironic. :)
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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby d_baker » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:59 am

Did they think about the huge drop off of users in winter?
The mornings in summer, parking fills up by 5:30-6am easy on Ruxton.
Winter, not so much. It really doesn't fill up, until Sat/Sun.

And what were the night times? (e.g., sundown to sunup times according to season, or specific times?)

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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:31 pm

d_baker wrote:Did they think about the huge drop off of users in winter?
The mornings in summer, parking fills up by 5:30-6am easy on Ruxton.
Winter, not so much. It really doesn't fill up, until Sat/Sun.

That was mentioned. The intent (initially) is to get the incline users to park along Ruxton below the Iron Springs spot, where there will be about 60 free spots with a 3 hour limit. That should be enough for off-seasons. Parking is going to be a problem during peak times like Saturday mornings (already is, actually), but there really is a need to reserve some spots for residents. They estimate there is demand for 150-200 spots at peak (mid-morning) for incline users, and the plan currently has about 100 spaces along Ruxton (including the Iron Springs Chateau spots) and 34 in the Barr Trail lot, so it's going to be tight. Don't be surprised if they put in meters along Ruxton.
And what were the night times? (e.g., sundown to sunup times according to season, or specific times?)

They just said it would be open "dawn to dusk". Everybody hated it, so that will probably go away. I think that was thrown in because that's the rule for many parks, but it was pointed out that this is a trail, not a park.
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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby England » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:37 pm

Wow- I didn't know about this, and will certainly attend the next one. The dusk to dawn restriction would suck. I usually do the incline after dark to avoid the circus. I would love to see the no dogs thing go through since the majority of the lower incline smells like dog crap, and my girl was knocked over by a dog running up. 10 years ago there was very few people on the incline, seems like the Air Force cadets have taking over lately.
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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby tmathews » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:57 pm

England wrote:Wow- I didn't know about this, and will certainly attend the next one. The dusk to dawn restriction would suck. I usually do the incline after dark to avoid the circus. I would love to see the no dogs thing go through since the majority of the lower incline smells like dog crap, and my girl was knocked over by a dog running up. 10 years ago there was very few people on the incline, seems like the Air Force cadets have taking over lately.


Lots of Ft. Carson soldiers, too.

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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby d_baker » Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:02 pm

tmathews wrote:Lots of Ft. Carson soldiers, too.

That smoke and swear up a storm. (But they're not the only ones.)
The dogs don't bother me. It's the owners that don't know how to pick up after them that bothers me.

Thanks Jim for posting your take on the meeting.

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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby CO Native » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:48 pm

d_baker wrote:The dogs don't bother me. It's the owners that don't know how to pick up after them that bothers me.

Could someone explain to me why so many dog owners pick up the dog doo in a bag tie off the bag and then leave the bag and doo on the ground. If you're just going to leave it behind then don't add a bag to it. Is this some sort of project to preserve dog doo for future scientists to study? It will degrade on its own eventually but if you wrap it in plastic first and leave it then how long will it last?
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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby MUni Rider » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:55 pm

CO Native wrote:
d_baker wrote:The dogs don't bother me. It's the owners that don't know how to pick up after them that bothers me.

Could someone explain to me why so many dog owners pick up the dog doo in a bag tie off the bag and then leave the bag and doo on the ground. If you're just going to leave it behind then don't add a bag to it. Is this some sort of project to preserve dog doo for future scientists to study? It will degrade on its own eventually but if you wrap it in plastic first and leave it then how long will it last?


The excuse for leaaving the baggy of poop is that they plan to pick it up on the way back down, but I have seen the same bag(s) stay put for days at a time since most people go down via Barr trail, not the incline. Sure, I guess I could pick it up myself, if I didn't already have my hands full with my unicycle for the ride down Barr trail. My pockets are usually already full of candy wrappers and empty water bottle trash anyway. It would be nice is dog owners were more responsible. I'm sure 12 dog owners will now flame about how great THEY are, and that it's only a few bad apples, but those few bad apples are the reason that a dog ban is even on the table.

Honestly, I like dogs, and enjoy their company when they are in my group but if there is a ban, so be it. Not that it could ever really be enforced.

Dog poop and poop bags on trail ranks right up there as just as unsightly as cigarette butts, IMO.
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Re: Manitou Incline Alternatives Public Meeting 10/21

Postby Jim Davies » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:57 am

MUni Rider wrote:I'm sure 12 dog owners will now flame about how great THEY are, and that it's only a few bad apples, but those few bad apples are the reason that a dog ban is even on the table.

One suggestion my group threw out was to have a "dogs-allowed" day (like every Tuesday or something). Someone else replied that the "good" dog owners would avoid those days, since their dogs aren't part of the problem. :roll:
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