Fish Creek Road Flood Restoration and Mitigation
Estes Park, Colo.
Best Project

Owner: Larimer County
Lead Design Firm: HDR
General Contractor: SEMA Construction Inc.
Key Subcontractors: Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping; Coulson Excavating Co.; Ground Engineering Consultants; HTM Construction Co.; Pancho’s Concrete; Powell Restoration Inc.; Rocky Mountain Rebar Inc.

In 2013, a flood damaged the Fish Creek area near Estes Park. Specifically, flood waters destroyed or damaged significant portions of the sanitary sewer lines, municipal electric and water lines, bicycle and pedestrian trails, the stream channel, access to Fish Creek Road and the road itself.

This $11-million project fixed the road and installed new culverts, riprap, retaining walls and resurfacing. It also included pedestrian bridges and restoration work on the trails as well as concrete sidewalks, curbs and gutters. Just as important, the project helped restore the natural habitat of Fish Creek, which is vital for fish movement and the local beaver population.

Effective teamwork was essential to the area’s restoration. The designer and contractor worked closely to make sure designs could be constructed and to deliver an environmentally effective and low-risk project on time and within budget. 

Improvements to the creek included adding grade-control structures, retaining walls and new vegetation. As much as possible, the contractor employed natural materials such as stone and wood to create a more rustic appearance. Single-cell concrete box culverts will allow debris to pass through with relative ease, reducing the risk of clogging and localized flooding.

A critical challenge was managing priorities of the four public agencies involved in the project.  Among them were seven local, state and federal funding sources, each with differing—and sometimes conflicting—requirements. The project team communicated extensively with the various stakeholders to make sure everyone was comfortable with the project’s direction at every turn.

Work was completed with a perfect safety record. Besides protecting workers, the contractor was also concerned about pedestrians. To keep them safe, crews fenced off the work zone, kept the site clean and posted many detour signs. Construction traffic also was separated from pedestrian paths.

Winters in Colorado can be unpredictable, and spring floods are a fact of life in the Rockies. The improvements to Fish Creek and its surroundings are expected to make the area less prone to flooding the next time waters rise.

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